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Mind's Eye 

A Liberal Arts Journal 
Massachusetts College ol Liberal Arts 

John Dewey's Conception of the Role and Methods of Philosophy 

By Richard Markham 

Dangerous Beauty: Wives vs. Courtesans, Church vs. State 

By Meera Tamaya 
St. Cloud, 1926 By Thomas Weston : sis 
Poetry by: David Raffetd, Abbot Cutler. Mary Kennan Herbert 

Figures and Movement: 
Art, Dance, and Liberation Theory in the Late Work of 

Maurice Prendergast By Tony Gengarelly 

Memories of the Civil Rights Movement By Frames Jones-sneed 

History and Identity — A Creative Union?: 
Lessons from Israelis and Palestinians By Sumi Colligan 

Spring 1999 

Mind's Eye 

A Liberal Arts Journal 

SPRING 1999 

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 

Editorial Board 

Tony Gengarelly 
Managing Editor 

Bob Bishoff 
Sumi Colligan 
Steve Green 
Ben Jacques 
Leon Peters 
Maynard Seider 
Meera Tamaya 

Technical assistance from Orion Book Services 

© 1999 The Mind's Eye 
ISSN 1098-0512 

The Mind's Eye, a journal of scholarly and creative work, is edited 
and published twice annually by the faculty of Massachusetts 
College of Liberal Arts. While emphasizing articles of scholarly 
merit, The Mind's Eye focuses on a general communication of ideas 
of interest to a liberal arts college. We welcome expository essays, 
including reviews, as well as fiction, poetry and art. Please refer to 
the inside back cover for a list nf submission guidelines. 

The Mind's Eye is funded by the office of Dr. Ashim Basu, Vice 
President for Academic Affairs. 

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 
Formerly North Adams State College 
375 Church Street 
North Adams, MA 01247-4100 

Mind's Eye 

Spring 1999 

The Editor's File 4 

John Dewey's Conception of the Role and 
Methods of Philosophy 5 

By Richard Markham 

Dangerous Beauty: Wives vs. Courtesans, 
Church vs. State 18 

By Meera Tamaya 

Poetry by: 

David Raffeld 25 

Abbot Cutler 28 

Mary Kennan Herbert 30 

St. Cloud, 1926 31 

By Thomas Weston Pels 

Figures and Movement: 

Art, Dance, and Liberation Theory in the 

Late Work of Maurice Prendergast 37 

By Tony Gengareily 

Memories of the Civil Rights Movement 54 

Review Essay 

By Fiances Jones-Sneed 

History and Identity — A Creative Union?: 
Lessons from Israelis and Palestinians 61 

Book Review 

By Sumi Colligan 

Contributors 67 

The Editor's File 


>■ — i onsidering the eclectic nature of this edition's contents, the 
synchronistic qualities are remarkable. Who would have thought that 
John Dewey had anything in common with Isadora Duncan? Yet, 
Dick Markham's perceptive essay on Dewey and Tony Gcngarelly's 
accounl of early modern an and dance present us with two examples 
of the diverse thinking that surfaced in America during the early 
twentieth century. Dewey's scientific approach to prohlem solving 
and Duncan's call lor spiritual liberation were, each in its own way, 
radical solutions to contemporary social problems. Tom Pels also 
brings us to the same time frame with his insightful interpretation of 
one of Atgct's renowned Parisian photographs. 

With a focus on the personal and immediate, the three review 
essays present congruence in a slightly different manner. Meera 
Tamaya explores the modern courtesan celebrity by using a sixteenth- 
century film character as a point of departure. Sumi Colligan's 
speculations about an eventual reconciliation of opposites in the 
Middle East and Frances Jones-Sneed's personal account of the 
American Civil Rights Movement stretch their sources as well in an 
attempt to bring a sense of contemporary urgency and possibility to 
their historically based subjects. 

We are pleased, once more, to publish the poetry of Abbot Cutler. 
The inclusion of additional poems by David Raffcld and Mary Herbert, 
both guest contributors, continues to extend the range of this journal, 
which has now completed two full years of publication. In many 
ways we have reached our goals originally set forth by the MCLA 
Board of Trustees: first, "to publish the academic and creative en- 
deavors of the MCLA faculty"; second, "to help the college reach out 
to alumni and the broader community which touches and supports 
the campus." The submissions deadline for the Fall edition is July 
1 5. We encourage contributions from our colleagues and off-campus 

4 The Mind's Eye 

John Dewey's 
Conception of the 
Role and Methods of 



L^ohn Dewey knew he was living in the midst of economic, scien- 
tific, political and religious developments signaling the end of the 
modern era and the beginning of an age yet to be clearly defined. He 
devoted a lifetime to exploring the implications and ramifications of 
these developments, including the need for what he called a recon- 
struction in philosophy. What should be the role of philosophy in the 
post-modern age and what methods should philosophers use to make 
the most fruitful contributions to society? He developed answers to 
these questions compatible with his evolutionary naturalism, answers 
which can stdl speak to us as we confront the challenges of a new 

Dewey often contrasted his positions with those of traditional 
philosophy on the one hand and, on the other, with those twentieth 
century philosophers content to focus on matters of language and 
logic. Traditionally, most philosophers sought to rise above the 
conditions and circumstances of their times in search of a system of 
thought embodying "higher" truths and values. They were persons of 
vast learning who, in relative seclusion, sought insight into an 
ultimate reality transcending immediate experience and who, from 
time to time, shared the fruits of their labors with less ambitious 
souls. Dewey respected the systematic contributions made by tradi- 

The Mind's Eye 5 

Richard Markham 

tional philosophers within their differing historical contexts and he 
made frequent references to them in his writings, but he agreed with 
others that it was time for philosophers, indeed all of us, to give up 
the search for final answers. Traditional philosophical systems, though 
admirably systematic, generally were too abstract to have much 
practical value. "The charge that is brought against the non-empirical 
method of philosophizing is not that it depends upon theorizing, but 
that it fails to use refined, secondary products as a path pointing and 
leading back to something in primary experience." (Experience and 
Nature, 6) Throughout his career, Dewey became increasingly critical 
of those who continued a "quest for certainty," whether they sought 
comfort in some set of supernatural beliefs or whether they strove to 
establish fixed and final natural laws. Either way, from his point of 
view, the energy expended seeking definition of some ultimate reality 
could be better spent tackling issues and problems that surround us. 

He disagreed just as much with the tendency of many twentieth- 
century philosophers who, like him, abandoned the quest to find 
absolute and universal truths but who, in contrast, saw no role for 
philosophy to play in addressing major social issues. They carved out 
a radically diminished role for philosophy and pursued goals much 
more modest than those of traditional philosophers. Many of this new 
breed tended to disregard the contributions of philosophers in the 
past, to concentrate instead on language and logic analyses, and to 
isolate themselves from the issues and events of the century. Late in 
his life, he expressed his concerns about this trend to the Graduate 
Department of Philosophy at Columbia University: 

The most discouraging thing in philosophy is neo-scholastic 
formalism which also happened in the Middle Ages. It is 
form today for its own sake, in so many cases. A form of 
forms, not forms of subject matter. But the subject matter is 
so chaotic and confused today in the world that it is difficult 
to handle. This is how I would explain this retreat from 
work in the facts of human life into purely formal issues— I 
hesitate to call them issues because nothing ever issues 
except more form! {Miscellaneous Writings 469) 

Dewey affirmed the need for formal analysis in the work of philoso- 
phy, but not if was analysis in a vacuum, divorced from the real-life 
social, political, religious, and ethical issues facing us in this challeng- 
ing period of human history. 

So, for Dewey, instead of searching for ultimate truths on the one 
hand, or falling victim to the paralysis of analysis on the other, 
philosophers should acquire the perspectives necessary to discern 

6 The Mind's Eye 

Richard Markham 

underlying cultural movements and dilemmas which escape common 
notice and which fuel the conflicts and perplexities within various 
domains of human conduct. He was a new kind of philosopher, one 
who saw philosophical activity as an integral part, and outgrowth of 
social experience rather than as an abstract endeavor set apart from 
the major issues of any age. Drawing upon the best of relevant past 
and present thought, philosophers should employ analytical skills to 
define problematic situations more completely. Having done so, they 
should not shrink from offering creative solutions and subjecting their 
proposals to the critical eye erf others. Philosophers should once again 
engage in the search lor wisdom, not the kind of wisdom pursued by 
traditional philosophies, but the only kind of wisdom capable of 
producing fruitful results, namely the kind of wisdom that, is the 
product of informed and intelligent inquiry. In Experience and Nature, 
Dewey offered what he called a first-rate test of the value of any 

Docs it end in conclusions which, when they are referred 
back to ordinary life-experiences, render them more 
significant, more luminous to us, and make our dealings 
with them more fruitfuf? Or does it terminate in rendering 
the things of ordinary experience more opaque than they 
were before.. ..Does it yield the enrichment and increase or 
power of ordinary things which the results of physical 
science afford when applied in everyday affairs? Or does it 
become a mystery that these ordinary things should be what 
they arc; and are philosophic concepts left to dwell in 
separation in some technical realm of their own? It is the 
fact, I Tepeat, that so many philosophies terminate in 
conclusions that make it necessary to disparage and con- 
demn primary experience... .which leads cultivated com- 
mon-sense to look askance at philosophy. (7-8) 

What are the kinds of problems and issues Dewey believed most 
require the attention of philosophers? During his lifetime, Dewey 
witnessed the shift from an agricultural to an urban way of life, vast 
improvements in the means of communication and transportation, 
and the growth of large, complex institutions. The transformations 
wrought by the industrial and technological revolutions radically 
altered the way most humans lived their day-to-day lives. At the 
same time, he was convinced that most people still clung to ideas and 
beliefs about God, about the nature of reality, about human nature, 
and about the nature of truth which were the product of pre- scientific 
belief systems. As Dewey put it, "Habits of thought and desire remain 

The Mind's Eye! 

Richard Markham 

in substance whai they were before the rise of science, while the 
conditions under which they take effect have been radically altered 
by science." {Philosophy and Civilization 318) 

The disjunctions between the old and new were manifest in 
many ways. In the political realm the weapons of war had become 
more terrible while nations still clung to nationalistic beliefs and 
hierarchical structures (if authority characteristic of the modern era 
from f 600-f 914. In the domain of religion, science and Biblical 
research seriously questioned traditional beliefs, yet many still held to 
literal interpretations of their central texts. In education, factory 
models predominated even though studies of psychological develop- 
ment supported more fluid organizational arrangements. In ethics, 
the foundations of traditional moral frameworks were shaken by 
events in the twentieth century, yet people continued to view ethical 
standards as absolutes. If Dewey were living today, he would argue 
rigidly held moral vie ws are too static to cope with the numerous 
dilemmas resulting from developments in modern genetics. 

At a deeper level was the disjunction between traditional dualistic 
patterns of thought on the one hand and, on the other, scientific 
discoveries making untenable such dichotomies as mind-body, 
individual-society, subject-object, experience -nature, spiritual- 
material. For Dewey, such dualities are the products of outworn 
assumptions about reality, human nature, and truth, and as long as 
we hang onto those assumptions we'll be blocked from resolving 
apparent dichotomies and achieving a coherent, consistent world 
view compatible with the findings of modern science. 

So, philosophers should be concerned with the disjunctions 
between old and new cultural conditions and with the indefensible 
continuation of dualistic thinking. Minor adjustments in traditional 
patterns of thought will not be sufficient. For Dewey, the number of 
dualities and the magnitude of social problems and conflicts are such 
as to require nothing less than a wholesale transformation in our 
basic assumptions about reality, about human nature, and about 
truth. Only such a large-scale, systematic revision of traditional 
paradigms will allow fruitful resolutions of major issues and dualities. 

Especially to be questioned is the traditional notion that there is 
an absolute and more perfect reality transcending human experience, 
that such a reality is accessible to human reason, that knowledge is 
the product of reasoned efforts to know that ultimate realm., and that 
our notion of what is true and good at our level of existence should 
strive to approximate absolute truths and values located in the higher 
reality. Such traditional notions are part and parcel of a medieval 
perspective which, in modified form, continued to prevail into the 

8 The Mind's Bye 

Richard Markham 

twentieth century and still echoes today. Our language is shot 
through and through with references to levels of being, higher and 
lower truths, superior and inferior forms of life. Many still speak of a 
heaven above and a fiery hell below. Our institutions largely are 
hierarchically organized, reflecting age-old patterns nf authority. 

Dewey believed it absolutely imperative that hierarchical concep- 
tions of reality give way to an evolutionary world view if we are to 
reduce the discord among people, resolve the dualities in our think- 
ing, and fashion a more aesthetically gratifying existence, Bringing 
about a transformation will require building upon significant twenti- 
eth-century movements in science and philosophy that grew out of 
developments begun several centuries ago when the Copernican and 
Newtonian revolutions changed forever the idea that the earth was at 
the center of a spherical universe. Dewey was fully cognizant that 
such developments were culminating in a view of reality as an 
immense and ever-changing cosmos, not a great chain of being. 

Instead of a closed universe, science now presents us with 
one infinite in space and time, having no limits here or 
there, at this end, so to speak, or at that, and as infinitely 
complex in internal structure as it is infinite in extent. 
Hence it is also an open world, an infinitely variegated one, 
a world which in the old sense can hardly be called a 
universe at all; so multiplex and far-reaching that it cannot 
be summed up and grasped in any one formula. {Reconstruc- 
tion in Philosophy 54) 

The universe, incredibly vast, virtually limitless in extent, expanding 
rapidly since the Big Bang some 1 5 billion years ago. may have no 
absolute beginning nor any absolute end. It's dilferentiated in a 
marvelous variety of ways ranging from the smallest invisible phe- 
nomena to distant stars accessible only with the largest and most 
powerful telescopes. This reality is far more complex, far less certain 
and secure than the hierarchical levels of reality conceived in the past 
within which human beings were considered to occupy a special 
place. But it also is far more mysterious and interesting and far richer 
in possibilities, 

In addition to transforming our thinking about reality, we must 
alter traditional conceptions of human nature, which, if they go 
unchallenged, will continue to fuel human conflicts. As long as we 
continue to believe that each human being is a special creation of God 
and is endowed with an individual and eternal soul, we'll continue 
to fight over which God has created some of us more special than 
others. Darwin's theory of evolution, bolstered by subsequent ad- 

The Mind's Eye 9 

Richard Markham 

vances in genetics, undermines the notion that human beings occupy 
some special central place in the scheme of things. Humans are but 
one species among millions and millions of others that have come 
and gone. We are as much part of the natural world, as are other 
species of plants and animals. Yes, we differ in that our species has 
evolved a complex and intricate brain structure making it possible to 
invent and utilize a vast range of symbol systems with which we 
represent features of immediate experience and endeavor to make 
sense of the greater reality. But we are not creatures endowed with a 
soul having supernatural origins. We must come to accept our place 
within the elaborate and intricate fabric of nature and realize that we 
need to continue to adapt if we are not to join the millions of other 
species that have come and gone. 

For Dewey, the shift from hierarchical to evolutionary concep- 
tions of reality and human nature also has drastic implications for 
how we think about the nature of truth. Instead of conceiving Truth 
to occupy some imaginary higher realm, we must accept that the 
truths we live by are partial and tentative, subject to change as 
required to meet the challenges of evolving circumstances. No longer 
can any individual or culture lay claim to having a privileged and 
exclusive corner on what is true, right, and good Each of us has a 
unique genetic configuration and operates within particular cultural 
contexts, and our perspectives are thereby limited. No person or 
culture has a God's eye view of our circumstances. 

Does this mean that all truths are of equal value? Not for Dewey. 
Some truths are more soundly established than others because they 
are the product of informed and intelligent inquiry. They are not final 
truths, but they can withstand public scrutiny better than others that 
are the products of habit, custom, convention, and superficiai opinion 
uncritically examined. Acceptance of our place within a changing 
cosmos wiLl bring us to acknowledge that all categories of thought 
arise out of human experience, that knowledge should be used 
instrumentally, and that warranted judgments about truth and good 
are the outcome of careful observations and reasoned hypotheses 
rigorously tested. 

The role of philosophy is to elaborate and communicate these 
new conceptions of reality, human nature, and truth, to show how 
they resolve troubling dualities, and to explore their implications for 
how we conduct our affairs in every domain of human life. This is 
what Dewey sought to do; his numerous articles and books stand as 
testimony of his commitment to the "reconstruction of philosophy." 
His works address significant issues in art, religion, politics, logic, 
ethics, and especially in education. Throughout all of them, he 

10 The Mind's Eye 

Richard Markham 

contrasted his new ways of thinking with patterns of thonght we 
should outgrow, and utilized methods of inquiry compatible with his 
underlying assumptions about reality, human nature, and truth. 

What methods of effective inquiry will make the most fruitful 
contributions to society? Dewey answered these questions most 
thoroughly and. systematically in books like How We Think and Logic: 
The Theory of inquiry. True to his evolutionary convictions, he believed 
all human inquiries follow a basic pattern operating within all living 
things, namely that of experiencing needs, exerting efforts to satisfy 
those needs, and enjoying satisfactory consummations. Because of 
the human capacity [or complex symbol systems, the "needs" we 
experience are much more complex and varied than those of simpler 
forms of life, the "efforts" we exert are more elaborate and potent, 
and the "consummations" we can experience are Far richer. This 
underlying pattern of inquiry is manifest in all human activities, 
whether in our personal lives, our occupational and professional 
responsibilities, or our artistic and scientific endeavors. 

As models of informed and intelligent inquiry, he referenced the 
methods so evident in the contributions of science over the past 
several centuries. Experiencing the desire to probe the secrets of 
nature, scientists have defined problems clearly, articulated hypoth- 
eses, and tested them rigorously in the hopes of achieving satisfactory 
and dependable results. Throughout, they have drawn upon the 
accumulated wisdom of the past without becoming its prisoner, 
gathered and analyzed relevant data without undue prejudice, and 
creatively proposed solutions without naive expectations of receiving 
unquestioned agreement From their peers. 

Afl of us benefit from the fruits of scientific inquiry, but untold 
further values would accrue were we to practice in ail realms of 
human life the reflective modes of thought exemplified by the best of 
scientific research. In this endeavor, philosophers should take the 
lead. Departing from their traditional role of using reason and/or faith 
to access a presumed higher realm of Truth, they must practice 
informed and intelligent inquiry as the surest means for challenging 
the hierarchical patterns of thought appropriate for an earlier age and 
for proposing soiutions to fundamental questions and issues. 

The reconstruction to be undertaken is not that of applying 
"intelligence" as something ready made. It is to carry over 
into any inquiry into human and moral subjects the kind of 
method (the method of observation, theory as hypothesis, 
and experimental test) by which understanding of physical 
nature has been brought to its present pitch. (Reconstruction 
in Philosophy, ix) 

The Mind's Eye 11 

Richard Markham 

Throughout their work, philosophers must perform two func- 
tions, one critical or analytic, the other hypothetical or visionary. 
The critical or analytic function clears the way for the second. Per- 
forming the critical function requires that philosophers examine the 
roots of whatever problem they are addressing. This is not easy 
because philosophers, themselves, are products of The past and must, 
if they are to perform a leadership role in helping influence others 
and the public at large to alter their own "outworn attitudes," work to 
disentangle themselves from ideas and themes that hinder progress. 
As Dewey put it; 

. . . Philosophy has now to do a hard and, for many of us, a 
disagreeable job. This is the work of getting rid. by means of 
thinking as exact and critical as possible, of perpetuations of 
those outworn attitudes which prevent those engaged in 
philosophical reflection from seizing the opportunities now 
open. This is the critical, or, if one please, the negative, 
aspect of the task to be undertaken in the present state of 
philosophy. (Problems of Men 16) 

But it will not be enough for philosophers to perform a critical 
function within their own domain and within society at large. Being 
analytical only prepares the ground for creative speculation. Phi- 
losophers must not shrink from this challenge. Drawing upon the 
wisdom of the past and relevant contributions of science, they should 
engage in formulating imaginative hypotheses for dealing with the 
problems of men. 

Philosophy still has a work to do. ... It may turn to the 
projection of large generous hypotheses which, if used as 
plans of action, will give intelligent direction to men in 
search for ways to make the world more one of worth and 
significance, more homelike, in fact. There is no phase of 
life, educational, economic, political, religious, in which 
inquiry may not aid in bringing to birth that world which 
Matthew Arnold rightly said was as yet unborn. Present- 
day philosophy cannot desire a better work than to engage 
in the act of midwifery that was assigned to it by Socrates 
twenty-five hundred years ago. {Problems of Men 20) 

Lest Dewey be misunderstood, it may be well to reemphasize that 
he was not advocating that philosophers attempt great syntheses that 
would solve human problems for all time. The speculations and 
visions of philosophers are hypothetical, subject to the test of human 
experience. Dewey was dedicated completely to the notion that our 

12 The Mind's Eye 

Richard Markham 

categories of thought, our "objects of reflection." "secondary objects," 
"hypotheses," "refined objects," have value only to the extent that 
they enrich primary experience. This conviction is manifested in his 
constant emphasis of the importance of a thoroughly empirical 
technique, one involving the double movement back and forth 
between theory and practice. 

[The primary concern of philosophy] is to clarify, liberate, 
and extend the goods which inhere in the naturally gener- 
ated functions of experience, ft has no call to create a world 
uf "reality" de novo nor to delve into secrets of Being hidden 
from common-sense and science. It has no stock of infor- 
mation or body of knowledge peculiarly its own. ... Its 
business is to accept and to utilize for a purpose the best 
available knowledge of its own time and place. And this 
purpose is criticism of beliefs, institutions, customs, policies 
with respect to their bearing upon good. This does not mean 
their bearing upon the good, as something itself attained 
and formulated in philosophy. For as philosophy has no 
private store of knowledge or of methods for attaining truth, 
so it has no private access to good. As it accepts knowledge 
of facts and principles from those competent in inquiry and 
discovery, so it accepts the goods that are diffused in human 
experience. It has no Mosaic nor Pauline authority of 
revelation entrusted to it, But it has the authority of 
intelligence, of criticism of these common and natural 
goods. (Experience and Nature 407-408) 

Application of intelligence, using the inquiry methods proven by 
science, drawing upon relevant knowledge constructed in various 
disciplines, gradually constructing trenchant hypotheses, these are 
among the hallmarks of Dewey's conception of the methods neces- 
sary for philosophy to fulfill its new role. 

Unsatisfied with abstract recommendations, Dewey filled his 
writings with examples wherein he practiced what he preached. 
Take first his way of resolving the seemingly irreconcilable dualities 
referenced earlier in this paper and lingering on in our century. First, 
through careful analysis, it was necessary to understand their roots in 
past cultural conditions. Dualisms such as mind-body have a long 
history and for centuries were not deemed problematic; they were 
compatible with hierarchical conceptions of reatity, human nature, 
and truth. As long as minds were considered the instrument for 
accessing higher levels of reality and truth; as long as bodies were 
trapped in a lower reality; as long as a spiritual soul was assumed to 

The Mind's Eye 13 

Richard Markham 

have access to God and to have priority over one's material body; as 
long as the Church was the accepted institution having responsibility 
for the moral well-being of humanity, and secular institutions were 
responsible for secular matters, everything fit. 

But this integrated system was challenged by the rise of science in 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and dualities became 
problematic. Intellectuals were conflicted between the claims of faith 
and the claims of science, between the religious and the secular. To 
avoid cognitive dissonance, the uneasy compromise was to compart- 
mentalize. Separate mind and body. Separate the domains of religion 
and science, the spiritual and material. Distinguish subjective selves 
from objective nature. But compartmentalization, albeit a temporary 
solution, is not intellectually satisfying. Hence, long debates continue 
today about how mind is related to body, about whether there is a 
spiritual dimension transcending material existence, about the lines of 
demarcation between individual and society, about how to distinguish 
the subjective and the objective. 

Dewey believed resolution of problematic dualities will come 
only when we surrender the hierarchical paradigm supporting them 
and begin to explore the rich potential of an evolutionary frame of 
reference. To illustrate further, consider the still often accepted 
dualism between mind and body. Such a notion has its origins in the 
class structure of ancient Greece and the Platonic notion that reason 
should subordinate the senses. The life of the mind was superior to 
activities of the body. Christianity sharpened the distinction between 
mind and body by associating the mental with eternal life, with 
spirituality, and with potential for improvement and associating the 
body with temporal concerns, with materiality, and with susceptibility 
to the influence of evil. God gave humans dominion over nature and 
the free will to choose between the higher life of the soul and the 
temptations of the body. 

Given the scientific discoveries of the past two centuries, such 
dualistic thinking is no longer defensible. Drawing upon the contri- 
butions of modern science, Dewey sees no sharp separation between 
mind and body, between mental operations and. natural processes. 
The operations we associate with reasoning (the ability to classify 
phenomena, analyze, explore assumptions, think logically, discern 
patterns among processes, and other such mental abilities) are 
operations within nature and ore analogous with organic activity at 
lower levels of complexity. "The mind is within the world as a part of 
the letter's own ongoing process. It is marked off as mind by the fact 
that wherever it is found, changes take place in a directed way, so that 
a movement in a definite one-way sense-from the doubtful and 

14 The Mind s Eye 

Richard Markkem 

confused to the clear, resolved and settled-takes place" (Quest for 
Certainty 291). There is no need to resort to supernatural explanations 
to account for the operations of intelligence we associate with mind. 

This is not the place to go into greater detail concerning Dewey's 
concept of mind; suffice it to say that his views contrasted radically 
from older ways of thinking. 

The old center was mind knowing by means of an equip- 
ment of powers complete within itself, and merely exercised 
upon an antecedent external material equally complete in 
itself. The new center is indefinite interactions taking place 
within a course of nature which is not fixed and complete, 
but which is capable of direction to new and different 
results through the mediation of intentional operations. 
Neither self nor world, neither soul nor nature (in the sense 
of something isolated and finished in its isolation) is the 
center, any more than either earth or sun is the absolute 
center of a single universal and necessary frame of refer- 
ence. (Quest for Certainty 290) 

Dewey's methods when addressing dualities were identical to 
those employed when he wrote about social, political, religious, and 
educational issues. Define a problem, analyze the roots of conven- 
tional alternatives, and propose solutions grounded in his evolution- 
ary naturalism. For example, with respect to education, he recognized 
that those advocating structure, discipline, and a tight curriculum on 
the one hand and those supporting looser reins and student choice of 
curriculum on the other actually were giving expression to different 
poles of a structure-freedom duality. The advocates of structure 
believed that established truths were approximations of some higher 
reality and therefore should drive the curriculum; the supporters of 
freedom challenged this traditional paradigm but their solutions 
amounted to rebellion against its grip rather than representing a 
creative new approach grounded in assumptions compatible with 
modern science. 

Dewey agreed that the traditional structure, curriculum, and 
methods prevailing in traditional schools needed change, but he was 
no advocate of free schools where children could study whatever and 
whenever they wished. Accumulated knowledge from the past is to 
be valued and transmitted to new generations but not as a load of 
predigested facts. Instead, teachers should structure their classrooms 
in a way that builds upon children's curiosity about their natural and 
social environment, and should then nourish the underlying pattern 
of inquiry children share with all forms of life by fueling it with 

The Mind's Bye 15 

Richard Markham 

relevant knowledge drawn from a valued past. The aim throughout 
should be to develop within children the patterns of informed and 
intelligent thinking so necessary if they are to become creative and 
productive citizens as adults. 

It we were to accept Dewey's conception of the role and methods 
of philosophy and agree with his conviction that we need a wholesale 
transformation in our conceptions of reality, human nature, and 
truth, might there not be a price to pay? If we embrace his views, will 
it not mean sacrificing the morals and values we've associated with a 
spiritual realm? If all that we've associated with being distinctively 
human can be explained as the product of natural processes, what 
happens to the notion of a soul, to the integrity of the person, to our 
religious rituals? While not denying that an evolutionary perspective 
will require giving up some of these notions and practices, Dewey 
believed that the values we've long revered need not be sacrificed by 
operating within an evolutionary paradigm. Fear of their loss occurs 
only if one assumes that the values we hold dear have their ultimate 
location within a higher spiritual realm and are accessible only 
through reason or faith. 

In fact, all the goods and values ever experienced are the products 
of human interactions with the rest of a natural world indescribably 
rich in qualities and potential. Every moment of our lives has a 
qualitative dimension and the goods wc experience are simply those 
which are drawn from an immense pool of latent others. Over the 
centuries, we've come to revere some goods more than others, 
converting them into chosen values. Many of these, such as love, 
compassion, reverence for life, respect for other persons, are ones 
we've associated with religion and spirituality. There is no reason why 
we should not continue to hold these values in high esteem. Indeed, 
they should operate as "principles" regulating our conduct as we seek 
to realise the goals and objectives Dewey called ends-in-view. 
There is no need to imagine values as located in some superior realm, 
accessible only to a favored few. Indeed, to the extent that we employ 
the operations of intelligence to achieve desired ends rather than 
experiencing feelings of guilt because we haven't lived up to some 
impossible standard, they will become more accessible to all. 

On the brink of a new millennium, we are yet in the midst of a 
transition from a world dominated by traditional belief systems to an 
epoch still not clearly defined. We are experiencing some of the 
confusion and disorientation to be expected anytime longstanding 
habits and expectations don't seem to square with the demands of 
new situations. The conditions under which we are living are both 
exciting and turbulent and we are faced with the challenge of how to 

16 The Mind's: Eye 

Richard Markham 

resolve major social issues and of how 10 live our lives in the century 
soon to be born. More than ever before, our survival is at risk. 
Dewey believed we must resist the temptation to escape into the false 
security of traditional thought patterns, which no longer have cred- 
ibility. They simply are no longer efficacious; clinging to them will 
only perpetuate the current crisis and hasten our demise. Instead, 
with a new breed of philosophers leading the way, we should utilize 
informed and intelligent methods of inquiry when defining the 
problems before us, explore possible options, and try solutions we 
believe will have the best chance of maximizing the values we hold 

Works Cited 

Dewey, John, Experience and Nature. 2nd ed. Open Court Publishing 
Company, 1929. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1958. 

— . How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking and 
the Educative Process. Boston: D. C. Heath & Company, 1933. 

— . Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York: Holt. Einehart and 
Winston, 1938. 

— . Miscellaneous Writings, 1885-1953. Volume 17 of John Dewey: The 

Later Works. 1925-195). Ed. Jo Ann Boydston. Carbondaie: 

Southern Illinois UP, 1990. 
— . Philosophy and Civilization. New York: Minton, Balch & 

Company, 1931. 
— . Problems of Men, New York: Philosophical Library. 1 946. 
— . The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Thought and Action. 

Capricon Books Edition. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1929. 
— . Reconstruction in Philosophy. Enlarged Edition. Introd. John Dewey. 

Boston: The Beacon Press, 1948. Paperback Edition. Boston: 

Beacon Press, 1957. 

The Mind's Eye 17 

Dangerous Beauty: 
Wives vs. Courtesans, 
Church vs. State 


Note: The following essay is not a movie review; 
rather, it attempts a comparison between the 
central conflict in the film Dangerous Beauty and 
the recent impeachment imbroglio. 


t J el in Renaissance Venice, adapted from the biography The 
Honest Courtesan by Margaret Rosenthal, the movie Dangerous Beauty 
chronicles the fortunes of a famous courtesan who played a crucial 
role in the survival of Venice as a city state, relatively independent of 
encroaching Papal authority. As we all know, Venice was the mer- 
cantile center of burgeoning Renaissance capitalism and consumer- 
ism. The Marxist critic Lisa Jardine has persuasively argued that the 
Renaissance was as much about conspicuous consumption as about 
the rebirth of knowledge and the arts. Acquisition and display of 
worldly and artistic goods were celebrated in Renaissance portraits in 
which the subjects were often painted surrounded by their luxurious 
possessions. The movie's stunning cinematography, a visual feast, 
recreates the hedonistic splendor of sixteenth century Venice with its 
gilded gondolas, splendid palazzos, paintings, sculptures, opulent 
clothes and jewels. Venetians worshipped and paid homage to the 
gods of power and pleasure with an occasional, perfunctory nod to 
the Christian God of proscriptions. 

18 The Mind's Eye 

Meera Tamaya 

In this world, the true celebrities were the courtesans, who were 
analogous to Japanese geishas in thai they were valued not only for 
their bodies, but also for their accomplishments. Veronica Franco, the 
heroine of Dangerous, Beauty, has access to libraries from which re- 
spectable women are barred, and besides being erudite and well 
versed in the erotic arts, she is also an expert fencer and a respected 
poet. Renaissance Venice is comparable to contemporary America on 
many levels, but especially in its culture of celebrities. At the end of 
the millennium, America is the undisputed leader of the world, not 
only in military might, a flourishing artistic and media culture, but 
also in promoting free, unfettered, capitalism. In our post-modern 
world, some women achieve celebrity by attaching themselves to 
sports heroes, movie stars, princes and presidents, and 'work' outside 
the traditional, religiously mandated constraints on sexuality. These 
so called "groupies* are comparable to old-style courtesans. Two 
obvious examples are Camilla Parker- Bowles, the mistress for whom 
Prince Charles considered a wife well lost after she produced an heir 
and a spare, and Monica Lewinsky. Admittedly Camilla and Monica 
do not earn their living by selling sexual favors, but the glamour of a 
prince and a president may be considered payment in kind, if not in 
cash. Groupies derive their raison d'etre from association with 
powerful men. 

Courtesans by profession, like Veronica in Renaissance Venice, or 
courtesans by inclination, like Camilla and Monica, do not subscribe 
to bourgeois notions of the sanctity of marriage. Reportedly, when 
Camilla introduced herself to Charles, she drew his attention to the 
fact that her great-grandmother, Alice Kepler, was the favorite 
mistress of his great-grandfather, And in the kind of absurdity the 
British monarchy, an antediluvian institution, specializes in, Camilla's 
husband (now an ex) holds the position of Silver Stick in Waiting. 
Monica's propensity for older, famous men seems to be genetic in 
origin: her mother has published a book titled Private Lives of The Three 
Tenors, in which she claims to have had an affair with one of them. 
The fact that she undertook the safekeeping of Monica's infamous 
blue dress says a great deal about her system of values, which are 
obviously not those of your average middle-class mother. The 
resemblance to Renaissance Venice and its courtesan/celebrities is 
unmistakable, particularly in the role played by them in the ongoing 
conflict between the church and state, between law and desire, the 
extreme right and the liberal factions of England and the United 

First, the movie. Veronica Franco, as played by Catherine 
McCormack, is a bookish and tomboyish beauty, in love with Marco 

The MindS Eye 19 

Meera Tamaya 

Venieri, the son and heir of a wealthy and influential nobleman, 
played by Rulus Sewell. Although Marco is drawn to her, he explains 
to Veronica that he cannot marry her, as she has no dowry to offer; 
his father would never countenance such a marriage: "Marriage is not 
romantic," he explains "It is a contract, it is about politics; that is why 
God invented poetry." He has to make a dynastic marriage profitable 
to Venice and his family; indeed, in a bitter moment Marco intones, 
"What God and country have joined together, let no love put asun- 
der. " 

Before she has time to recover from this blow, another, worse 
shock is dealt her by her mother, who informs Veronica that since her 
father has drunk away the family fortunes and died leaving them 
destitute, she has to support the family by becoming a courtesan. 
Veronica's brother has to buy a commission in the army, and her body 
is the only commodity which can finance her brother's future. 
Courtesans, if they arc well trained and accomplished, can become 
very wealthy and very influential, as they are sought alter by the 
most powerful men in Venice. "I know. I was a courtesan, one of the 
best, before I married your father," says her mother. When Veronica 
demurs, her mother concedes that a girl wiLh no dowry has one other 
alternative to a life of prostitution: becoming a nun. She takes 
Veronica on a tour of a convent; the chilling visit decides the sensu- 
ous, freespiriled Veronica: she submits to the rigorous training in the 
erotic and line arts required of a courtesan. Beautiful, intelligent and 
spirited, Veronica embraces the life with gusto and becomes a highly 
prized courtesan whose freedom and influence is envied by wives 
who are cloistered in their homes. 

Before we run away with tlris highly romanticized concept of 
courtesans, the film is careful to display the other end of the class 
structure which existed among them. At the lowest end of the scafe, 
the poorer prostitutes are displayed in cages and have their teeth and 
bodies prodded and scrutinized before their services are bought. They 
are also subjected to corporal punishment in public, providing 
entertainment for sadistic onlookers. At the highest level inhabited by 
Veronica, she is prized not only for her physical beauty, her expertise 
at giving pleasure, but also for her erudition, her ability to win 
improvisatory poetry and fencing contests. Veronica's accomplish- 
ments add to the glory of Venice, and she is called upon during 
negotiations with neighboring powers in times of emergency. For 
example, when a Turkish invasion is imminent and the Venetians 
need the help of the King of France to repel tire invaders, it is 
Veronica's brave management of the French King's sado/masochist 
proclivities which persuades the king to send a fleet of ships to aid 

20 The Mind's Eye 

Meera Tamaya 

Venice in its war effort. The Doge of Venice declares her a National 

The class structure among prostitutes and courtesans, which 
mimicked the established social hierarchy in Venice, is comparable to 
the classes of women who are, in the parlance of sociology, "sex- 
workers" in contemporary America. The Monicas and Camillas offer 
services which wives may or may not provide, and perhaps, more 
important, without the emotional strings and social obligations 
attached to the institution of marriage. Like Veronica, Monica and 
Camilla are not sex workers who walk the streets and are controlled 
by pimps. Monica is upper middle-class — her father is an oncologist, 
while Camilla's family is upper-class landed gentry. In her grand -jury 
testimony Monica slated that she fell in love with Clinton, although 
she never expected to, but she often referred to him as The Big Creep 
in her tape-recorded conversations with Linda Tripp. However 
ambivalent her feelings for Clinton were, the precise nature of the 
services she offered was undeniably a large part of her attractiveness 
to him, if Clinton's past history is anything to go by. Cut to Dangerous 
Beauty. When the wives of the leading citizens of Venice send for 
Veronica to ask her if they have had news of their husbands from the 
war front, they follow up their questions with a more important 
query: "What keeps our husbands coming back to you, again and 
again, like pigs to a trough?" Veronica replies by picking up a banana, 
and declaiming its Latin name, peels it, and swallows it whole in one 
smooth, scarcely perceptible movement of her deep throat. There is 
an audible gasp of outrage from the wives. The Latin term hardly 
dignifies the obscene act, they inform her. 

However, a more pragmatic wife asks Veronica to train her own 
teenage daughter in the arts of a courtesan because, the wife says 
sadly, "Courtesans enjoy more freedom and influence than wives." 
By way of answer, Veronica takes the wife to the red-light streets 
where the poor, disfigured, and destitute prostitutes are left out to die 
and shows her what happens to most courtesans. As a courtesan she 
may occupy a iarger cage than a wife, but it is still a cage, Veronica 
points out. Here we come inevitably to the cage as a perfect metaphor 
for the limitations of the roles prescribed for women by society both 
in Renaissance Venice and present day America. There are many 
cages of differing sizes, comfort, even luxury, but for the purposes of 
this paper, I will consider just one: the cage of celebrity which impris- 
ons both Hillary and Monica, a cage not all that different from the 
institutional cage of marriage. According to Clinton biographers, his 
primary motive for marrying the plain and brilliant Hillary was her 
suitability as a wife for a politician with the highest ambitions. In 

The Mind's Eye 21 

Meera Tamaya 

Clinton's highly compartmentalized life, the likes of Monica can cater 
to his satyriasis. Both Hillary and Monica are photographed by Vogue 
and Vanity Fair: celebrity and notoriety are interchangeable and often 
indistinguishable in the free market. In Catholic Renaissance Venice, 
marriage provides a cage structured by church and state which 
assures a certain security for respectable women, who are transferred 
from the custody of fathers to that of husbands. In the comfortable 
prison of marriage, duty, property, and status are often substituted for 
pleasure, love, and personal autonomy. In the larger cage occupied by 
the likes of Veronica and Monica, desire unregulated by church and 
state can have free play, governed, however, by the cash and power 

Indeed, Veronica's satisfied customers include bishops, senators, 
kings. The Doge of Venice has cannily managed to keep the city state 
relatively free of church controf by negotiating and catering to the 
church's own venality. In other words. Renaissance Venice, in its 
glorious celebration of carnal and artistic pleasures, has managed to 
retain the earmarks of a secular state, with a marked similarity to 
Clinton's America before Kenneth Starr began his investigation of the 
goings on in the White House. Indeed, the reign of pleasure in 
Renaissance Venice comes to an abrupt and horrifying end when, in 
the wake of the war against Turkey, plague replaces pleasure with the 
wages of sin: death. Indeed the Black Death is used by the Inquisition 
to reassert its control over renegade, hedonistic Venice. It is tempting 
to speculate that millennial anxieties have played a part in the recent 
resurgence of the extreme right in America. Of this I shall say more 

In Venice the first casualty in this war between church and state, 
between proscription and pleasure, are the courtesans who are 
brought to trial, summarily condemned, and hanged. Veronica is tried 
not only as a courtesan, but far more serious, as a witch who has a 
supernatural hold on men, Veronica's chief accuser and prosecutor is 
a former poet whom Veronica had publicly humiliated by her own 
superior gift for instant improvisation of bawdy verse, Worse still, she 
had trounced him in a duel. This former rival of Veronica is now a 
self-righteous priest and prosecutor played by Oliver Piatt (whose 
plump cheeks and dimples recall those of Kenneth Starr), who admits 
that his hatred of courtesans, particularly of Veronica, is in direct 
proportion to his former frustrated desire for her, because as a poor 
courtier, he could not afford her services. 

When Veronica makes a spirited, eloquent defense of the human 
need and right to give and receive pleasure, she is told that her very 
articulateness proves her wickedness: long tongues in women are a 

22 The Mind's Eye 

Meera Tamaya 

sign of their promiscuity; the church conflates verbal eloquence with 
sexual profligacy. We need hardiy remind ourselves that 
Shakespeare's women are praised for their silence: Coriolanus ad- 
dresses his wife as "My gracious silence" and King Lear praises 
Cordelia for her soft voice: "Her voice was ever soft, / Gentle, and 
low, an excellent thing in woman," fn Renaissance Venice and 
contemporary America the tongue, the instrument of speech and 
sensuality, also becomes the sword of rebellion raised against the 
church's tyranny. The French theorist Michel Foucault has argued 
that the body becomes the site of control, a visible arena for public 
discipline and punishment, in the subjugation of its citizens by church 
and state. 

Pleasure is inherently anarchic, and Veronica's tongue, with its 
expertise in pleasure and poetry, is the ultimate symbol of anarchy, a 
sort of female phallus, which appropriates to itself what is tradition- 
ally male: the prerogatives of power and pleasure, the exercise of 
which makes men godlike, but for which women are condemned as 
witches. When the Inquisition is on the point of forcing Veronica to 
admit she is a witch, her male patrons (the entire assembly of digni- 
taries), egged on by her lover Marco, now a Senator, rise up in her 
defense. At this the Doge diplomatically points out that since Veronica 
is not a witch with supernatural powers, but only a common whore, 
such base matters need not be the concern of the church, but may be 
left to the state. With this piece of brilliant casuistry, he saves both 
Veronica's life and the status of Venice as a secular state. 

In an article in the New York Times Magazine, Andrew Sullivan, 
former editor of The New Republic, (an openly gay Republican, a sort of 
living oxymoron), argues that the extreme right is actually subverting 
the vaunted credo of mainstream Republicans: less government, more 
freedom. Sullivan makes the point that Kenneth Starr, an avowed 
fundamentalist, who reputedly reads the Bible every day, has actually 
managed to put the government in the bedroom. Surely, it is more 
than a coincidence that Starr and his cohorts' voyeuristic moral fervor 
coincides with all the other fears rife at the end of the millennium: 
the breakdown of computers, proliferation of terrorism and, accord- 
ing to blockbuster movies, invasions by aliens, annihilation by comets 
and dinosaurs. Witch hunts are notoriously triggered by paranoia and 
exploited by politicians — Senator McCarthy's infamous blacklisting 
and Congressional hearings against the perceived communist threat, 
are just two obvious examples. Tolerant and secular, Renaissance 
Venice becomes prey to the inquisitorial Church precisely when the 
Black Death nearly decimates its population. Historically, fear and 

The Mind's Eye 23 

Meera Tamaya 

paranoia have proved efficient triggers for assorted forms of indi- 
vidual and mass insanity. 

Time magazine, ever quick to trumpet the Zeitgeist, put both Starr 
and Clinton on its January 4, 1999, cover and named them Men of 
the Year. It is not hard to imagine Janet Reno in drag, playing the 
wily Doge of Venice, keeping a representative of the religious right 
and a head of state apart. But as we all know, she signally failed to do 
so when she gave the prosecutor free rein to run amok, The amusing 
irony is that the vengeful, self-righteous inquisitor sports a cherubic 
smile: his is the face of a fulfilled voyeur. Clinton, the usually smiling, 
doughy President, looks grim, mouth curved downward, eyes glint- 
ing, a thwarted satyr, perhaps contemplating bombing the hell out of 
Iraq as an efficient means of sublimating his frustrations and distract- 
ing his critics. Every country deserves its leader, but alas, in a century 
named The American Century by Harold Evans, the American Men of 
the Year, Starr and Clinton, can engage in a dame macabre over a 
global battlefield. In our postmodern world where difference is 
obliterated by the undiscriminating and greedy maw of a free market, 
the accuser and accused appear Janus faced, two sides of the same 

24 The Mind s Eye 

Three Poems 



Ai [he cemetery 

I see my landlord's last name 

on one of the gravestones and remember 

my rent is due. 

The Mind's Eye 25 

David Raffeld 

Aphorism for the Literal 

(at Natural Bridge, North Adams, Massachusetts) 

Here is an original carving 
where a revision in stone 
is literally a waste of time. 

26 The Mind's Eye 

'Prayer" by David Raffeld 
In the last stanza "trace" should be "face" 

David Raffeld 


I close the door behind me 

my two children asleep 

unwinding their dream 

of this day and the day before 

and what will be ahead. 

That they will wake tomorrow 

is the miracle of all my waking days. 

But when I'm in their room 

looking down upon them in the dark, 

the moonlight combing the faces 

of their uninterrupted sleep 

I can think of nothing else that would be them, 

that could hold a burning candle to their innocence; 

not alphabet, song or sorrow, not even Eden 

with all its summer bronze and indolence. 

I pray my children will pocket hope 

as they pick their way through uncertainty. 

Pray they will not settle for the secondhand, 

that the wind will bend at their knees, 

that rust will not tarnish their souls. 

Let their eyes raise hope to their brows 

that will deepen and furrow with the light 

from ladders that lead to the stars, 

their steps waking the earth 

as they take their strides. 

T pray my children will dance 
in the light of all the dangers 
they will trace when all their doors 
come waving open one by one 
and each one of them is a sun. 

The Mind's Eye 27 

At the Barber Shop 


Chef s, in Greenfield, Mass. This 
is no hairdresser's, no stylist's, 
no unisex, blow-dry, pamper me 
shop, even though a young woman, 
blond hair leased out, greets me 
in the doorway, the dark and the rain 
coming down outside. She says 
she's got time, will cut my hair 
before she locks up and goes home, 
I sit in one of three half- ton swivel 
chairs from the fifties and she begins 
with electric clippers to take it back 
to something reasonable, Everything 
about the place is reasonable. The five 
metal chairs with stuffed plastic seats, 
the tables with Field And Stream 
and Reader's Diges!. No products 
to sell, no decor to make me feel 
she cares ... about the shop 
or me. And why should she? 
The shop's her father's ... and me? 
But 1 want to believe she does care 
as clumps of my hair fall 
onto the shiny sheet i'm under 
and slide down onto my lap. The buzz 
of the clippers around my ear 
brings back an adolescent fear 

28 Tht Mind's Bye 

that I will look foolish, my ears 
stranded on a canvas of shorn scalp. 
Why am I here? Bui she is more 
adept than that and maybe cares. 
She asks me where I live and 
what I do and I ask how it is 
that she is there cutting hair, 
and does she like it? She does 
and no, she wouldn't want to go 
someplace else. She went 
to Springfield, but didn't, like it, 
moved back. Now, she's using 
thinning sheers, big chops that 
only take a bit. My sixteen-year-old self 
sits back, breathes more easily, 
the fear of looking foolish 
only momentary. J can tell 
her what i want. She went 
to school for this, and I, at fifty 
must know how I want to appear, 
which side my hair is parted on. 
She combs it into place, pats it 
gently and says, "How s that?" 
I look and 1 look fine, reasonable. 
I say that and she sweeps off 
the sheet and shakes it out. 
The register drawer clangs and slams. 
I must have paid. She's putting it 
all in. order. I'd like to have stayed 
a while longer, but I'm on the side- 
walk in the November dark 
feeling the cold on my bare neck, 
car keys in my pocket. 

The Mind's Eye 29 

At a Family Reunion in Hawley 


a sacrament 
here are snippets 

guarded conversations 

memories wrapped in an uncomfortable foil 

slings and arrows ethnic jokes 
fraternal barbs in profusion 

tenderness well hidden love restrained 
passion denied 

what else shall I list 

in this beach-stained album 

full of our many photographs 
your children and mine 

line them all up according to size and age 
dress them all in souvenir tee-shins 

so I can use up rolls of film 

get everybody's mug for eternity don't move 

here you will be in a super-size print 
I share the negatives with one and all 

I will send prints to all on the family 
tree but by the time you read this 

half of us are divorced and half of us are dead 
there are no guarantees 

but grandma hugs us again and again 

every lime we show home movies and here we are 

doing this family thing knowing the uselessness 
and possible blessings of these chronicles 

30 The Mind's Eye 

St. Cloud, 1926 


several years ago, by a well-meaning soul who simply wished me to 
enjoy it, I had no idea that it would eventually prove to be my guide 
into the field of photography. Perhaps I had an inkling. I was immedi- 
ately drawn to its dark sepia color, and to the sense it projected of a 
quiet misty morning in a formal park. 1 liked the composition; large, 
dark forms in the foreground, and more delicate, lighter ones behind; 
verticals against horizontals, with continuing echoes of each. But this 
is hardly enough to explain the role which this old photograph — and 
a reproduction at that, has played since the time it was given to me. 
Although I had had it up at regular intervals for several years, 1 rarely 
looked at it without discovering sumething new: not a new branch, or 
tree, or path, but a new principle, major compositional device, or 
discrete interwoven detail of design. In a curious way its rugged 
simplicity seemed to hide an endless store of elegance and subtlety. 

From the beginning, the picture (see illustration, page 35) has 
been shrouded in mystery for me, mystery which has yielded, partly 
by conscious application and study, partly by simple familiarity, to 
some measure of understanding. Bit by bit, like pieces of a puzzle, its 
various parts have fallen into place. With them has come insight into 
the artistic issues they represent or are a part of, so that the picture 
has served as a koan for, and its unraveling as the touchstone of, my 
education in photography. 

The Mind's Eye 31 

Thomas Weston Fels 

At first, even the name was a mystery, an unpronounceable 
cluster of consonants proudly emblazoned beneath the photograph. 
Atget. Eventually I learned to say it: ahd-jay. But there was more. Why 
take a photograph of an almost empty tree, its naked branches nearly 
devoid of foliage? What was the statue to the left of the tree? What 
era of dress was represented in its darkened form? Where did the 
statue end and the tree begin, and was that a feather in the hair of 
the statue (like a Native American) or a branch which happened to be 
conjoined with the form of the head? Most of all, I wondered, why in 
a photograph of such delicate, spectral beauty, the representative 
image for a major exhibition, was there in the foreground a large pile 
of gravel? 

1 thought about that pile of gravel off and on over the years. As I 
thought about it T noticed other things. In the private grammar of 
photography, those tiny leaves and fragile branches indicated spring. 
The effort to reconcile the vibrant yellow-greens of April with the 
still, dead, brown fixity of a scene which had occurred over fifty years 
before was like learning to read a foreign language. (Perhaps the pile 
of gravel had to do with repairing the roads in the park in the 

I noticed that whatever the precise nature of the statue, the 
salient fact about it was that it was indeed difficult to tell where it 
ended and the tree began. The photographer had taken care to join 
them, to link them at a point at which their respective limbs were of a 
comparable size and shape. The statue and the tree were thus very 
closely visually related, so closely related that if one began at the 
tangle of arm and branch, it was actually a surprise to find that, in 
following them out, one ended as a tree and the other as a piece of 
stonework. Clearly, Atget had had morphology as one of his guiding 
concepts in the composition of this photograph. (What had the form 
of the pile of gravel to do with this?) 

I noticed that both the statue and the tree with its branches, the 
most important foreground elements, were reduced by extreme 
contrast to a screen which was spread over the picture plane, a kind 
of two-dimensional pattern beyond and through which the rest of the 
photograph was seen. There was a subtle additional complexity to this 
in that the screen tended toward three dimensions at its base. (The 
gravel, more clearly modeled by the light, seemed a link between the 
fore- and middle ground.) 

Finally, I saw that the stone-curbed formal pond, which occupied 
the central middle ground of the photograph, was carefully aligned to 
put its borders in gentle diagonals which did not confront the viewer 
directly, and which emphasized in an indirect, discrete way its 

32 The Mind s Eye 

Thomas Weston Fels 

horizontal, planar quality. As my eye traced the border of this watery 
mirror with its truncated image of foliage, I could only admire the 
many concurrent levels on which order and meaning had been 
indicated and suggested without ever having been directly stated. 

Yet, there was an exception. How could I have missed it? The 
photographer had arranged his picture so that one short section of the 
pond's curb, insignificant in the overall composition of the photo- 
graph, pointed directly to the viewer. When 1 finally saw that single, 
small element in the design of the photograph, I was greatly reas- 
sured. T knew without being told that 1 had traced the construction of 
the image to its center; or, to put it another way, that 1 had been told 
so by the artist. Once having seen that small detail, the entire compo- 
sition snapped into place. It was like a key: there was no other way to 
read the photograph, no other way in. 

That small detail spoke tu me with amazing clarity. Its startling, 
because surprising, frankness caused me to step back and reassess 
what 1 had seen, to look with more hope and care now that I was 
sure I was on the right track. What I saw was a portal, an opening in 
roughly the shape of a door or a window, through which by virtue of 
the composition itself, I was encouraged to look. The photograph w'as 
thus to some extent, perhaps to a large extent, like much of modern 
art, about looking. It was about art, as well as being art. It had been a 
portal to me as well. Its major elements had fascinated me long 
enough to hold my attention until I had unraveled some of its less 
obvious ones. Still, in the middle of this metaphorical doorway, was a 
pile of gravel. 

Sometime after, I was given a large set of photographs from 
which to select and organize an exhibition of my own. It was as I 
looked through these pictures again and again that many of the 
mysteries of my Atget image fell into place. Eventually they were 
claimed by the various specific areas of photographic history and 
technique to which they properly belonged. The darkened corners 
which arched the top of the image were the legacy of early photo- 
graphic lenses which distorted at the edge, or whose image did not 
quire cover the entire glass plate. The sepia ink echoed the color of 
early photographic prints on paper. The sharpness of detail and 
careful composition were the product. of an era in which a heavy box 
camera had to be set up, and the results worth the photographer's 
trouble. (This was an age for which Atget was in fact somewhat late.) 
The calm morning stillness insured few human intrusions, and little 
movement in foliage or water. 

Rut what I learned from most was the tradition of documentary 
photography of which a large group of my photographs were a part. 

The Mind's Eye 33 

Thomas Weston Pels 

Because Atget had wanted 10 photograph in St. Cloud, he had had to 
work with what was there. He had had to arrange himself, making 
decisions in three dimensions, in such a way as to bring into mean- 
ingful relationship as many of the preexisting aspects of the scene as 
possible. As a result, certain relationships could be seen to be more 
intentional and important than others. The tree was a tree and the 
statue a statue, but by linking them the photographer had created a 
new abstract form. Many of the other relationships in the photo- 
graph, though supportive and relevant, were secondary to this one.. 
The bare branches of the tree neatly fit the blank space of the sky, 
filling it almost precisely to the horizon — but not exactly. The arm of 
the statue was echoed in the tree; the small bit of curb in a distant 
opening in the trees; the statue in another far away statue; even the 
trunk of the tree and the statue themselves shared remarkable 
similarities of form. Yet, on consideration, how could these correspon- 
dences possibly be perfect? Rather, Atget's genius seemed to lie not 
only in the discerning eye which had discovered and organized these 
correspondences lor the viewer, but in a certain ability to present 
them to us in their natural state, not encumbered but positively 
amplified by their association with the unavoidable world around 
them, with, in this photograph lor example, such things as a pile of 

34 The Mind's Eye 

Thomas Weston Fels 

ATGET, Eugene. 

Saint-Cloud. 9 h. maim, mars 1926. SC:1262 

Albumen-silver prim, 9 378 x 7" (24 x IS cm). 

The Mmeum of Modern Art, New York. Abbou-Levy Collection. 

Partial gilt of Shirley C. Burden. Copy Print © 1 999 The Museum of 

Modern Art, New York. 

The Mind's Eye 35 

36 The Mind's Eye 

Figures and Movement: 
Art, Dance, and 
Liberation Theory in 
the Late Work of 
Maurice Prendergast 



JL. he late work of Maurice Prendergast ( 1 858-1 924). which dales 
from around the time he moved to New York City in 1914, features 
decorative oits and watercolors, often with symbolic motifs and 
abstract pastoral settings. An especially compelling theme involves 
dancing figures, usually nude females, who frolic in wooded groves 
and display the classically derived movements of early modem dance. 
Prendergast's use of these dancing figures is predicated on a compel- 
ling persona] interest in dancers such as Isadora Duncan and in the 
liberation philosophy, or culte de la vie, espoused by Isadora and other 
avant-garde artists of his generation. His use of bucolic settings 
reflects a revival of the ancient pastoral landscape, a classicized 
primitivism featured in the work of Puvis de Chavannes, Henri 
Matisse, and Arthur Bovven Davies, modem masters who especially 
influenced Prendergast. These philosophical and aesthetic elements 
unite must successlully in a 1914-15 oil panel. Fantasy (Williams 
College Museum of Art, Pig. 1 on page opposite), which is the most 
significant expression of Prendergast's treatment of dancing figures in 
the context of an idealistic landscape setting. 

The Mind's Bye 37 

Tony Gengarelly 

This idyllic scene, done in the artist's decorative. Modernist style, 
contains a group of figures peacefully cavorting around a central 
waterfall and stream. The nymph-like figures, through their natural 
and unforced eroticism as well as their freedom of gesture and 
movement, suggest a Utopian vision. Their innocence is underscored 
by the presence of angelic creatures who, divested of any specific 
religious association, infuse the scene with a symbolic holiness. 

The dancing figures, however, are not just abstract forms, and in 
their simulation of contemporary dance clearly approximate the 
gestures of Isadora Duncan. In fact, the positions of Fantasy's central 
dancing figures can be recognized in a group of pastel drawings of 
Isadora by Maurice Denis. Denis's sketches appeared in L'An Decoratif 
(August 1913), and a notation in Prendergast's "Paris Sketchbook" 
(1912-14) indicates that he was familiar with the magazine and may 
possibly have seen these drawings. 

This connection to Isadora, an advocate of uninhibited movement 
and a free expression of personal and sexual impulses, implies ideas 
then current on individual and social liberation. The picture's ideo- 
logical associations become even more evident when one considers a 
number of developments in Prendergast's personal and artistic life 
which occurred in the years before the United States entered World 
War I: first, Prendergast's contact with radical social mores and 
intellectual discourse, facilitated by his move to New York City in 
1914; second. Prendergast's interest in modern dance and his creation 
of sexually evocative figures which appear in his oils, watercolors, 
and sketchbooks dating from 1910; third, his preoccupation with 
abstract landscape, a modern variation of the traditional pastoral, 
which dominates the late oils. These three developments combine in 
Fantasy to reveal an artist who is more psychologically complex and 
intellectually engaged than is ordinarily assumed, an artist whose 
work expresses an important aspect of his period's radical social 

New York Radicals and the Philosophy of Liberation 

In November 1914 Maurice Prendergast moved from his native 
Boston to 50 Washington Street in the heart of Greenwich Village, 
New York City's Bohemian district, where the artist would remain, 
except for brief excursions to New England, for the rest of his life. 
Since 1900 Prendergast had developed an interest in New York, 
which was punctuated by his participation in the 1908 MacBeth 
Gallery exhibition of "The Eight" and by his contribution to the 
controversial 191? Armory Show. Already a member of Robert 

38 The Mind's Eye 

Tony Gengareily 

Henri's circle of urban realists and thoroughly aware of the latest 
artistic currents at home and abroad, Prendergast now located his life 
and work in the center of the American avant-garde. 

During this time New York was alive with social and intellectual 
crosscurrents that challenged established attitudes toward art, eco- 
nomics, politics, social relations, and personal mores. Inspired by 
European theorists Henri Bergson and H. G. Wells, New York's 
"Young Intellectuals" embraced intuition and instinctive behavior as 
spiritual antidotes to a rationally based social and political outlook. 
This liberation theory perceived instinct as basically good and primal 
human behavior as innocent and holy. Modern art expressed these 
latent forces, and thus aesthetic perception became linked with 
political and social ideology. Artists rubbed elbows with socialists and 
anarchists at Mabel Dodge's Fifth Avenue salon. Noted feminist and 
anarchist Emma Goldman espoused doctrines of sexual freedom 
practiced by many members of the avant-garde. In an early work. 
Drift and Mastery, published in 1914, even Waller Lippmann chal- 
lenged current attitudes toward social engineering with the idea that 
politics ought to be artistically shaped by intuition. The goal of "The 
Rebellion," the term applied to this loosely fabricated New York 
movement, was a combination of individual expression and collective 
harmony, a spiritual awakening which embraced art, sexual freedom, 
and brotherhood (May 219-139; Brown 3-38; Watson, 122-165), 

Having been elected in 1914 president of the Association of 
Painters and Scuiptors, the organization responsible for the 1913 
Armory Show where abstract configurations had challenged estab- 
lished notions of form, Prendergast was familiar with those who 
advocated liberation philosophy and practiced an avant-garde life- 
style. Robert Henri and Arthur Bowen Davies, two New York-based 
colleagues who were especially close to Prendergast, were leading 
exponents of radical freedoms. Henri advocated emancipation from 
the strictures of conventional art and academic criticism. Davies, who 
flirted with a Bohemian life-style, was committed as well to innova- 
tion in artistic expression. John Sloan too was a member of this 
artist-intellectual circle. His socialist sympathies were often expressed 
in graphic medium, and he contributed cartoons to the Masses, Max 
Eastman's contentious radical publication. 

Original members of "The Eight," Prendergast, Henri, Sloan, and 
Davies had defied the National Academy of Design in their 1908 show 
at the MacBeth Gallery. All had contributed to the 191 3 Armory 
Show, and each had a demonstrated interest in contemporary dance, 
[n fact, Isadora Duncan frequented their weekly gatherings, and 
Henri's students used members of Isadora's dance troop for models 

The Mind's Eye 39 

Tony Gengarelty 

(Homer L51). Modern dance fit especially well into Henri's liberation 
ideology, where artistic gesture symbolized universal themes and art 
had the power to transform life. Of Isadora's dancing he remarked; 

[She] carries us through a universe in a single move- 
ment of her body. Her hand alone held aloof becomes a 
shape of infinite significance. Yet, her gesture in fact can 
only be the stretch of arm or the stride of a normal human 
body. (Henri 55) 

Through her unconstrained dance movements and unconven- 
tional life-style Duncan had become a symbol of liberation culture. 
Henri and Sloan did a number of drawings, prints, and paintings of 
the dancer (Chapellier Galleries plate 29; Morse 195-99; National 
Gallery of Art 1 16, 1 J6). In Fantasy Prendergast records Isadora's 
liberated dancing and strongly suggests her inclinations concerning 
individual freedom. Davies also knew Isadora Duncan, most likely 
through the dancer Edna Potter, whom he met in i902 and with 
whom he lived for many years under an assumed name 
(Czestochowski 20). Davies purportedly did a number of drawings of 
Isadora which were subsequently lost in a fire (Magriel 61 ), The 
modern dance influence is unmistakable in his renditions ol classical 
figures in motion such as Maya, Mirror of Illusions (1909, The Art 
Institute of Chicago) and in Dances (1914-15, The Detroit Institute of 
Arts), a cubist variation done as a mural project in the same studio 
with Prendergast who was then completing Picnic (1914-1 5, The 
Carnegie Museum of Art)' and Promenade (1 914-1 5, The Detroit 
Institute of Arts) (Bolger 55-59; Mathews, Maurice Prendergast 36). 

Prendergast and Modern Dance 

A significant moment in the evolution of modern dance occurred 
in 1900 when Isadora Duncan visited Paris. The young dancer was 
already experimenting with a personal style of dance, an organic 
expression of movement in contrast to the prescribed formulas of 
traditional ballet. Now, at the Paris World's Fair, Isadora encountered 
Loie Puller and most likely saw her perform the "Serpentine Dance." 
Whirling rhythmically in folds of glittering fabric. Fuller symbolized, 
according to one description, "a fire above all dogmas." Her symbolic 
dance conjured up instinctive and elemental forces, the "language of 
the heart," as Francois Delsarte had phrased it in his 1887 book on 
gesture (qtd in Martin 14,17). During this same time Isadora visited 
the Louvre and encountered archaic-style Greek dance on antique 
pottery and in fragments of bas-relief sculpture. She was especially 

40 The Mini's Eye 

Tony Gengarelly 

impressed by the natural qualities of the moving figures where every 
position; "like the waves and the wind . . - presupposes 
another" (Duncan 54-57). In the following years Duncan developed 
an expressive style of dance based on symbolic gesture and. ancient 
forms of movement. 

Isadora's Greek-style dancing, replete with authentic costumes of 
loose-fitting fabric, was well received by an audience of artists and 
critics already sensitized to the potential for ancient styles of move- 
ment popularized in Maurice Emmanuel's 1896 book, The Greek 
Dance. When she made a New York appearance in 1909, one com- 
mentator recognized the classically-derived choreography: "She 
wore, as she always does, some drapery of diaphanous material . . . 
she flitted about the stage in her early Greek way and gave vivid 
imitations of what one might see on the spherical body of Greek 
vases"(qtd in Magriel 23). 

Isadora, however, had a message to communicate as well. 
Through her own statements — often delivered to a stunned audi- 
ence — writings, and dance gestures, Isadora proclaimed what was 
natural and liberated. For her, the expression of freedom was tied to 
nudity and especially to the naked female body. Accordingly, she 
argued that "only movements of the naked body can be perfectly 
natural "(Duncan 55), and could express what one of her artist 
admirers described as that "primitive purity" which would restore to 
humankind its "holy animality" once more (Magriel 53). Speaking 
very much in the tone of liberation theory, Isadora incorporated the 
nude female, the "dancer of the future," into a concept of spiritual 

She will realize the mission of woman's body and the 
holiness of all its parts . . . She will dance the body emerging 
again from centuries of civilized forgetlulness, emerging not 
in the nudity of primitive man, but in a new nakedness, no 
longer at war with spirituality and intelligence, but joining 
with them in glorious harmony. (Duncan 63) 

This description relates very well to the nude dancing figures in 

Prendergast may well have seen an actual performance by 
Isadora, but even if he did not, he would certainly have been aware 
of her dance movements through exposure to the work of contempo- 
rary visuai artists. Auguste Rodin, whose electrifying sculptural 
groups also inspired Isadora Duncan at the 1900 Paris World's Fair, 
did a series of drawings of Isadora while she moved for him in his 

The Mind's Eye 41 

Tony Gengareily 

studio (Magriel 43). Later, Rodin's dance figures were incorporated 
into an exhibition of his drawings. In 1908 and again in 1910, they 
were shown at Alfred Stieglttz's Photo-Secession Gallery, "291 ," in 
New York. The drawings were also featured at a Boston gallery in 
1909 and appeared as well in a 1911 edition of the Stieglitz publica- 
tion Camera Work. Both "29 1 " and Camera Work were familiar to 
Prendergast, as was the work of Photo- Secession artist Abraham 
Walkowitz. Walkowitz, who began depicting Isadora Duncan around 
1909, eventually completed hundreds of drawings of the dancer's 
gestures and movements (Magriel 52; Bluemner 6). 

More significantly, Prendergast was familiar with the dance 
pictures of Henri Matisse, whose stylistic influence is apparent in the 
work of the American artist after 1912 (Mathews, "Prendergast and 
Modernism," 41-42). fn 1905-06 Matisse created The Joy of Life 
(Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pa., Fig. 2 and Detail, page 43), a 
pastoral landscape with nude figures doing a circle dance in the 
background. Then, from 1909-1 1, Matisse produced a series of dance 
paintings based on the earlier fragment's circular movement. Despite 
the classical antecedents of The Dance sequence, the gestures of 
Matisse's figures are clearly modem, most likely after the style of 
Isadora Duncan (Cuno 503-04; Martin 24). Prendergast certainly 
knew of Matisse's dance images, even. though his exposure may have 
been indirect: through the background detail in The Joy of Life, which 
was published in a 1912 edition of Camera Work (page 43); or through 
the Armory Show, where Prendergast evidently saw Matisse's Nastur- 
tiums and the Dance, t, a still-life that includes a variation of The Dance 
in the background. Along with several other works by the French 
master featured at the 1913 show, Prendergast copied Nasturtiums and 
the Dance J into a sketchbook ("Armory Show Sketchbook," 1913). 
Prendergast's sketchbooks also confirm a more direct link with 
Isadora Duncan. Along with his aforementioned 1913 notation 
related to the drawings of Maurice Denis, Prendergast made his own 
drawing of Isadora around the same time ("Japanese Sketchbook," 
Fig. 3, page 44); the sketch is evidently based on a popular image of 
the dancer by Fritz Von Kaulbach which appeared on the cover of Die 
Jugend magazine in 1904 (Fig. 4, page 45), 

Prendergast's artistic expression of modern dance is further 
demonstrated in a series of large, single-sheet drawings of dancing 
figures, which he did between I9i2 and f 91 5; for these, Prendergast 
probably worked from a model moving for him in his studio. Not 
really concerned with dance as performance, these drawings focus on 
gestures and specific movements representative of contemporary 
archaic-style dancing. Two drawings in the coliection of the Williams 

42 The Mind's Eye 

Due to copyright concerns, this page has been 
blacked out. 

Images on the original page are 

Figure 2. Henri Matisse. The Joy of Life, 1905- 
06, oil on canvas. Barnes Foundation. 


Figure 3. Detail. The Joy of Life. 

Tony Gengarelly 

Figure 3. Maurice Prendergast. Isadora Duncan from "Sketchbook 
#17" {Japanese Sketchbook), ca. 1913-1 5, pencil on paper. Museum of 
Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast in honor of Perry 
T. Rathbone. Microfilm Roll no. 3584, Archives of American Art, 
Smithsonian Institution. 

44 The Mind's Bye 

Tony Gengaretly 

Figure 4. Fritz von Kaulbach, Isadora Duncan. 1902, pastel drawing 
reproduced as the cover for Die Jugend, 1 904. 

The Mind's Eye 45 

Tony Gengarelfy 

College Museum of Art, Dancer m and Three Figures suggest Isadora 
Duncan's liberated movements and archaic-style dancing. Another 
drawing, Dancer #2 (1912-15, University of Iowa Museum of Art, 
Collection of John J. Brady, Jr., Fig. 5, page 47) also recalls Isadora's 
style of dance. Abraham Walkowitz captures a similar movement in 
his 1909 depiction of the dancer (Magriel 49). Most importantly, the 
gestures and especially the nudity of Dancer #2 connect to the sym- 
bolically charged principal dancing figures in the 1914 panel Fantasy 
(especially the second figure from the left). 

In addition to the classically derived gestures of Isadora Duncan 
and her school of modern dance, the inspiration for Prendergast's 
nude females in motion whose images appear in Fantasy and in other 
works dating from this period is partially explained by his exposure to 
the sexual emancipation then current in New York's Bohemian 
circles. Isadora Duncan espoused it; Feminist Emma Goldman pro- 
claimed it; Prendergast's close friend Arthur Davies lived it; and social 
scientists such as Elsie Clews Parsons (Social Freedom, 1915) advocated 
it in their attacks on marriage and social taboos. Moreover, 
Prendergast had a personal interest in the subject of sex and sexual 
relations which can be gleaned from some very provocative fragments 
in his art. 

A careful look at some ol Prendergast's oils discloses a variety of 
instances where the artist employs erotic imagery. For instance, the 
1910-13 Bathers by the Sea (Williams College Museum of Art) contains 
a nude couple embracing under the trees behind the principal fore- 
ground figures. Promenade (1914-15) features the typical Prendergast 
park scene except for two young women, located near and on a 
centrally positioned bench, who seductively reveal their legs. This 
alluring pose, often associated with tarts, seems to have fascinated the 
artist, for it appears several times in his sketchbooks of the same 
period ("Sketchbook #19"). 

The sketchbooks especially reveal the full spectrum of 
Prendergast's sexual imagination. Interspersed with the typical beach 
scenes and coastal landscapes, Prendergast's erotic drawings appear to 
be independent musing, recorded at odd times on a random empty 
page of an already completed sketchbook. From the extant images — 
some apparently have been defaced or ripped out— Prendergast 
demonstrates an interest in the strip-tease ("Paris Sketchbook," Fig. 6, 
page 48) and in figures whose positions imply sexual activity 
('Sketchbook #5"; "Sketchbook #24"; "Paris Sketchbook"). Several 
depictions of sexual intercourse appear on these pages, their focus on 
genitalia reminiscent of Japanese shunga prints or German expres- 

46 The Mind's Eye 

Tony Gengarelly 

Figure 5. Maurice Prendergast, Dancer #2, ca. 1 912-1 5, pencil on 
paper. The University of Iowa Museum of Art, Gift of John J. Brady, Jr. 

The Mind's Eye 47 

Tony Gengarelfy 

Figure 6. Maurice Prendergast. Page from the "Paris Sketchbook," 
ca. 191 1-14, pencil, pen and ink wash on paper. Williams College 
Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Charles Prendergast. 

48 The Mind's Eye 

Tony (rtngarelly 

sionist drawings ("Armory Show Sketchbook"; "Sketchbook #29"; 
-Sketchbook #40"). 

As private journals, the sketchbooks reveal a more active sexual 
imagination, portray a more sensuous female than ever emerges in 
Prendergast's oils or watercolors. Nevertheless, rather than engaging 
in a kind of artistic voyeurism, Prendergasi in the erotic sketchbook 
drawings appears to be groping for an aesthetic resolution of very- 
powerful personal feelings. Many of the erotically charged scenes 
appear to be derived from images on Greek pottery no doubt inspired 
by cultural explorations in New York, Paris, and Venice ("Classic 
Subjects Sketchbook"; "Paris Sketchbook"). Perhaps, along with 
Isadora Duncan, Prcndergast saw in his interpretation of ancient 
images the way to a freer sexuality unencumbered by shame or guilt 
(Mazo 44). 

The modern dance motif, however, proved to be one of the more 
successful vehicles through which Prendergast could express his 
sexual imagination. For instance, the sketchbook "stripper" (fig. 6, 
page 48), converted to a prancing nymph, appears in a 1912-15 
watercolor. The Bathers (Collection of Mr. and Mrs. C. V. Nalley, III). 
The play of her gown and body faintly echoes in Dancer #2 while it 
resounds more emphatically in the dancing ligures ol the 1914 
Fantasy (note particularly the second figure from the right). Through 
his powerfully invested symbols of women in motion, Prendergast 
fashioned his own response to the artistic and intellectual 
community's call lor sexual emancipation. 

Prendergast and the Modern Pastoral 

In Fantasy Prendergast uses a modern variation of the pastoral 
landscape as the setting for his symbolically charged dancing figures. 
The traditional pastoral, which traces its origin to the work of Renais- 
sance Venetian masters Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, and Titian, is a 
settled landscape located between wilderness and urban civilization, 
and inhabited by amorous figures who celebrate their love for nature 
through poetry, song, and dance. The natural setting elevates the 
common elements in the scene transforming them into an expression 
of spiritual harmony. In Giorgione's Concert Champetre (c. 1510, 
Musee du Louvre), for instance, nudity is natural and thereby accords 
the foreground nymphs a "higher spiritual status." Inspired by the 
Eclogues of Virgil, the pastoral's message of aesthetic delight and 
spiritual harmony is symbolically communicated through ligures and 
setting, tone and gesture (Rosand 21-81; Cafritz 8J-1 1 1 ). 

Beginning with the symbolist paintings of Puvis de Chavannes in 

The Mind's Eye 49 

Tony Gengarelly 

the late nineteenth century, modem artists such as Matisse appropri- 
ated the idealized pastoral landscape and its classically derived 
imagery to communicate feelings of tranquility and aesthetic delight; 
to manifest freedom from social, political, and industrial constraints 
(Elderfield 97-102; Gowing 231-44). Prendergast's connection to this 
tradition is directly documented in "Sketchbook- #13" where he 
executed a drawing after Puvis's Pleasant Land (1882, Yale University 
Art Gallery, New Haven, Ct.). 

Since gestures and movement can express inner states of mind, 
the pastoral's modem variation often uses dance to communicate a 
symbolic message. Arthur Davies conveys the transience of existence 
in Without Pause, Enters, Touches, Passes (1927, Worcester Art Museum) 
where monumental female nudes move in synchronized rhythm 
across the frieze of life. In The Joy of Life, where Matisse implies a 
retreat from the contemporary urban-industrial world, the back- 
ground dancing figures project a liberated spirit into an otherwise 
contemplative picture (Elderfield 99; Benjamin 312-15). This anar- 
chistic undercurrent so often symbolized by the dance motif, is 
explained by social critic Margaret Anderson in a 1916 article for the 
Little Review: art and anarchism are synonymous, because they "are in 
the world for the same . . . reason," to free the mind through intuitive 
insight from the bonds of established thought and, hence, to help 
Liberate the individual from dependence on social and political 
institutions (May 306). 

Prendergast adopted a number of approaches to the modem 
pastoral, combining the allegorical with the exotic in a series of 
decorative tapestry paintings. Overall, these idealistic landscapes 
suggest a world apart, one where love and art purify and liberate all 
which has been sullied and constrained by human institutions. In the 
late pastoral landscapes Prendergast conveys a decidedly anti-indus- 
trial message (Durkin). He also uses the pastoral symbolically to 
represent ideas of social liberation which matched his own inclina- 
tions toward a freer personal expression. Where he employs the 
dance motif as a central image, his figures' movements clearly derive 
from the ancient sources reflected in modern dance. Two watercol- 
ors. Dancing Figures No. I (1910-13, private collection) and Bathers 
(1912-15, collection of Mrs. Charles Prendergast) feature the ener- 
getic, even frenzied movements of a Dionysian revel; whereas, the 
cadenced Sea Maidens { 1910-13, Private Collection) and Five Figures 
(1910-13, The Brooklyn Museum) simulate a ritualistic offering. 

As we have indicated, however, the best example of Prendergast's 
incorporation of modern dance gestures with the pastoral theme is 
the 1914-15 Fantasy. The symbolic power of the central moving 

50 The Mind's Eye 

Tony CengareUy 

figures draws on their association with the erotic imagery of early 
modern dance, especially the choreography of fsadora Duncan. 
While expressing ideas of social and sexual freedom associated with 
fsadora, Prendergast relates his personal concerns as well; projects 
them onto the nude dancing figures whose erotic overtones are 
puriffed in typical pastoral fashion as they cavort, through a harmoni- 
ous setting of innocent delight. This elevation of earthly impulses 
through a celebration of art and beauty can be glimpsed too in the 
philosophical statements of Robert Henri and in this f 906 tribute to 
fsadora by Gordon Craig: 

This is what she dances — 

Never yet has she shown dark or unbearable sorrow — 

Always sunshine's around her — 

Even the little shadows disappear 

and fiee when she passes (qtd in Magriel 64-65) 

Celebratory in tone and harmoniously balanced with activity and 
calm, with warm reds and tool blue colors, Prendergast's Fantasy is a 
beautiful dream, one which reverberates contemporary ideological 
concerns familiar to the artist, and, through the use of the modern 
dance motif, is an expression of the artist's erotic imagination, com- 
plex personal feelings resolved in the context of aesthetic delight. 


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Arabesque of Observation," The Art Bulletin 75:2 (June 1993). 

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Publications, 1945. 

Bolger, Doreen. "Modern Mural Decoration: Prendergast and His 
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Tony Gengarelfy 

Cafritz, Robert C. "Classical Revisions of the Pastoral Landscape." In 
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'Bonheur de Vivre'." The Burlington Magazine (July 1980), 

Czcstochowski, Joseph S. Arthurs. Davies:A Catalogue Raisonne of the 
Prints. Newark, N.J.: University of Delaware Press, 1987. 

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Theatre Arts Books, 1 928. 

Durkin, Elizabeth. Kindred Spirits: Maurice and Charles Prendergast. 
Brochure. Wiiliamsiown, Mass.: Williams College Museum of Art, 

Elderfield, John. The 'Wild Beasts": Fauvism and Its Affinities. New York: 
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Henri, Robert. The Art Spirit. New York: Harper and Row, 1984. 

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Magriel, Paul. Nijinsky, Pavlova, Duncan: Three Lives in Dance. Section 
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May, Henry F. The End of American Innocence: A Study of the First Years of 
Our Own Time, 1912-1917. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1964. 

Mazo, Joseph H. Prime Movers: The Makers of Modern Dance in America. 
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I would like to thank the Williams College Museum of Art and its 
Eugenie Prendergast Curator, Nancy Mowll Mathews, for the original 
opportunity to pursue this project through the exhibition Maurice 
Prendergast: Figures and Movement, March-August f990, which I helped 
to organize. Many thanks as well to J. Dustin Wees, Photograph and 
Slide Librarian at the Clark Art Institute, and to Carol Clark, Professor 
of Art History at Amherst College, for taking the time to read and 
advise me about, the essay. A special mention for Karen DeOrdio, 
Ann Gengarelly, Ann Greenwood, Diane Agee, Anne Havinga, 
Jimena Lasansky, Elizabeth Manns, Deborah Rothschild, and Peter 
Stevenson, who helped with research and manuscript preparation. 

The Mind's Eye 53 

Memories of the Civil 
Rights Movement 

A Review Essay of 

The Children by David Halberstam. 

Random House, 1998 


A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active and 
natural participation in the life of a community , . . this 
participation is a natural one in the sense that it is auto- 
matical? brought about by place, conditions of birth, 
profession and social surroundings. Places, and particularly 
home, are seen, therefore, as the foundation of our iden- 
tity. Given the acceptance of place as important, a sense of 
place is seen as a necessary feature of individual identity 
(Weil, p. 72) 


J—^avid Halberstam's recent work. The Children, demonstrates why 
he is a Pulitzer Prize winning author. In fact, this book is Halberstam's 
nostalgic journey back to the beginning of his journalistic career in 
the South. During the Civil Rights Movement he became accustomed 
to covering the topics that became front-page headlines. Later, he 
would win the Pulitzer prize for covering the Vietnam war. It was, 
however, the coverage of the sixties' movement in the South that was 
at the heart of Halberstam's journey toward the prize- winning 
journalist he is today. 

This book reads like the reminiscences of a prodigal son who 
returns home after a long absence. Halberstam tells the story of eight 

54 The Mind's Eye 

Frances Jones-Sneed 

people that he first met in Nashville, Tennessee, in the early sixties — 
young African-Americans from all over the country who would by 
their actions change forever the relationship between blacks and 
whites in the South. They were only a few years younger than 
Halberstam and from the beginning their dedication and commitment 
awed him. This book demonstrates that he is still impressed by their 
commitment. These relationships form the core of the stories told in 
the book. 

To explain the magnitude of the changes that took place in the 
South in the sixties, Halberstam begins by providing background 
information on each of the eight people. The South serves as a 
backdrop for social change. It is the central place that cements these 
people and their story of struggle and commitment. The South is one 
of those places that evoke memories of a base upon which millions of 
humans were set down to realise their possibilities. It became a place 
from which to discover the world, a destination to which they could 
return. (Relph, p. 27) The South served as a home for Africans when 
they were first brought to this country as slaves. Even in the face of 
unequal treatment after slavery, blacks remained in the South 
through the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The South became 
a battleground in the nineteenth century and again in the twentieth 
century— both periods centered on equal rights for blacks. 

African-Americans understood the drawbacks of the South as a 
place to live, yet still chose to live there. Indeed, even those who 
discount the theory of African survivals will attest to the fact that 
Africans were torn from their social, economic, and cultural place and 
brought to this country as unwilling workers. Their seasoning or 
acculturation to America came early. This foreign place was not easy 
for them because they were also separated from their families and all 
semblance of their culture, yet few documents that detail this loss 
exist. The few records that remain detail that they did miss their 
homeland (Africa) as other humans would under similar situations. 
They also understood that their memories of home had to be pre- 
served in order for them to survive in the new world. They adopted 
the South as their new home and invested all of their energy into 
making it a place to live. 

After slavery, many southern blacks decided to migrate north 
because many things about the South, such as crop failures, illnesses, 
unequal treatment, injustices, harassment and the inequities of 
tenant farming made it difficult for them to stay. Despite these 
inequities most African-Americans stayed in the South. 

It is difficult to understand blacks' deep attachment to the South. 
One explanation is offered by a former Virginia slave who said: "( 

The Mind's Eye 55 

Frances Jones-Sneed 

been here a long time, and I ain't tired of staying." (Sobel, p. 95} After 
all, it was their home, the place that they knew best and the only 
place most had lived. Many ex-slaves moved around after the Civil 
War but most stayed close to what they called their "homeplace" in 
the South. "Slaves . . . were outside the system of landownership. 
They were on the land, tilled the land, and were generally given 
private gardens to cultivate to supplement their food, but the land did 
not belong to them legally." (Sobel, p. 95) The same was true after 
emancipation but southern blacks had a spiritual attachment to the 
southern land. They believed that humans could not really own land 
because, in a spiritual sense, only God owned land and humans were 
only temporary caretakers. These legal and religious complications did 
not cloud blacks' sense of spiritual and physical attachment to the 
South. Those who migrated to the north or west still remembered it 
and visited it and sent their children back to get to know it. 

In the sixties the South became a staging ground for hundreds of 
young people who had never been in the South. It became a better 
place to live for those who lived there and it became a place of hope 
for those who had left it behind. After the Civil Rights Movement, 
every American could value the South not for the place it was but for 
what it promised to be. The young blacks that Halberstam writes 
about were excited by these possibilities. The South was a good place 
to claim as home because if the South could be changed then so could 
the nation. The South became a place where people exhibited great 
courage and a place where the American experiment of freedom was 
once again tested after a hundred years. 

Diane Nash is one of the eight people that David Halberstam 
writes about in his book. He introduces us to just eight out of the 
hundreds of young people who asked, "what can I do?" They were 
important in redeeming the South for anyone who claimed it as a 
home. It is a book that confirms that ordinary people were at the 
heart of the Movement. He writes, "I can think of no occasion in 
recent postwar American history when there has been so shining an 
example of democracy at work because of the courage and nobility of 
ordinary people." (Halberstam, p. 7) 

This was a time when African-Americans and their allies changed 
the face of the South. When one thinks of the South in contemporary 
society, one name emerges: Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet the story of 
the sixties and what became known as the "Movement" was much 
more than Martin Luther King's story. As Diane Nash states, "If 
people think that it was Martin Luther King's movement, then today 
the young people are more likely to say, 'Gosh, I wish we had a 
Martin Luther King here today to lead us.' If people knew how that 

56 The Mind's Eye 

Frances Jones-Sneed 

movement started, then the question they would ask themselves is, 
what can 1 do?" (Garrow, p. 3) 

T am always cautious about any account of events in the South 
during the sixties and of the people who participated in them because 
1 lived in the South at the height of the Movement. Most people who 
came of age during that time can relate stories about their own brand 
of activism. Although it was a time of change, courage and vision it 
has also become an often romanticized and exploited time. 
Halberstam's sweeping saga does not just dabble in sixties folklore — it 
is the real stuff. He was there as a young journalist to witness the 
beginning of something historic. Although he was there as an eyewit- 
ness to these events, his emphasis is on the story of the activists 
because he convinces the reader that they were the important 
ingredients that changed the South and the country. So The Children is 
as much Halberstam's memoir as it is about the eight activists he 

At first glance it is reminiscent of Howard Zinn's SNCG: The New 
Abolitionists, the first history of the group of young college students 
who would change the face of the South. Zinn's book was more about 
the organization of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee 
(SNCC) and how it developed from its beginnings as a student arm of 
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1960 
through its maturing years in 1964. Halberstam's book is about one 
contingent of that organization, the Nashville group — how they 
evolved as leaders of the movement, how they merged with other 
groups and how they have tared since their days of glory. 

Halberstam has entitled his book The Children because of the 
relatively young ages of the participants — all of them were under 
thirty. Yet the young people who joined the Movement after this first 
heady period thought of these people as heroes and some even 
thought of King as the grand old man. The people that Halberstam 
writes about set the stage for others to discuss the cultural and 
political issues of the time. After the sit-ins, the freedom rides, the 
voter registration drives and the protest of the Vietnam War, what 
was left fot future activists? 

By the summer of f 966 the Movement as Halberstam describes it 
was almost over: the philosophy of non-violent protest was being 
questioned within the organizations that cooperated for the major 
changes of the sixties, and many hard-won. alliances were irretriev- 
ably broken. The summer of 1966 was the beginning of the end of 
the first phase of the Movement, it was the year that John Lewis 
stepped down from the chairmanship of SNCC and was replaced by 
the more radical Stokely Carmichael. It was the year that "black and 

The Mind's Eye 57 

Frances Jones-Sneed 

white together," one of [he Hues from the old spiritual "We Shall 
Overcome," was ridiculed, ft was the beginning of the movement 
called "Black Power" and black cultural nationalism was in vogue. 

Indeed, Halberstam has captured a precious time of hope and 
commitment that may never be repeated. He has explained what the 
heart of the Movement was all about: Young, bright, often-naive 
young people who had the faith and courage that by their sheer will 
they could change a world. Halberstam writes about that time: "The 
journey they were beginning had started with a limited enough 
objective: an assault on the segregated lunch counters in Nashville. As 
that assault grew it created among these young people its own new 
equation: Each victory they gained demanded a further step; the 
totality of segregation as it existed in the American South." 
(Halberstam, p. S) 

A reader interested in this time period will find this book worth 
reading because of the various themes that are explored. One of the 
major themes of Halberstam's book is about unrewarded sacrifice. 
Nowhere is that theme more evident than in the story of Diane Nash. 
Her story is especially compelling because she and other early leaders 
of the Movement became role models for younger blacks in the South 
and the North. Nash's leadership of the Nashville group in the sit-ins 
became well-known lore of the Movement. 

Diane Nash led the Nashville Group to victory. The group deseg- 
regated the Nashville lunch counters when Diane debated the local 
mayor on the court house steps. John Lewis remembered that day 
vividly: "Diane's performance had been nothing less than brilliant. 
She had managed to get the mayor to move past his politics to the 
very core of his humanity." (Halberstam, p. 237) 

When a number of student groups across the south came to- 
gether to form SNCC it was naturally believed that Nash would be 
selected as the chairperson, but she was not; Marion Barry was. The 
reasons for this are varied, ranging from Nash's reluctance to attract 
attention to herself as well as problems about her gender. "Diane was 
a woman, and there was some sensitivity to that. The Movement 
always had a powerful undercurrent of male chauvinism, and it was 
believed by some of her friends that this worked against her." 
(Halberstam, p. 219) 

In a later interview Nash did not seem to regret not being chosen 
chairperson. She continued her work with the group because the 
Movement, in Nash's estimation, was always more important than 
any one person's ego. Rather, it was the betrayal of the personal 
relationship that she forged with feilow activist and later husband 
James Bevel that seemed more important to her. She recalled: "I was 

58 The Mind's Eye 

Frances Jones-Sneed 

the sole support of our family because my former husband, the 
children's father, decided that he did not want to hold a job." 
(Halberstam, p. 533) She admired him for his commitment to the 
Movement; he was a briltiant mars, but be tailed to see that he also 
had a commitment to support his children. This failure of the exten- 
sion of freedom into their own personal relationship and Bevel's 
relationship with his children haunted Diane Nash. After all, were not 
their children inheritors of this hard- won freedom? Should they not 
have the benefit of a loving supportive father? Were not the same 
moral standards that they implored white America to adhere to also 
the same principles that Bevel should follow? 

Halberstam's book reads like a bold saga of people's triumphs and 
failures, and because Halberstam is a skilled storyteller the reader is 
caught up in the story. Diane Nash's story captures our imagination 
because hers is a story of success, failure and resignation that anyone 
would find hard not to comprehend. Nash— a northerner, beauty 
queen finalist, smart, savvy, committed to the Movement — ends up 
struggbng to rear two children alone without the benefit of an 
education, After one completes this saga it is not pity one feels for 
Diane Nash but tremendous Tespect. She was perhaps less successful, 
financially, than her other better-known colleagues. John Lewis is 
now a Member of Congress; Marion Barry, the former Mayor of 
Washington, D.C.; Bernard Lafayette, holder of a Harvard doctorate, 
heads up his former seminary; Rodney Powell and Gloria Johnson, 
married and divorced, became medical doctors; and Curtis Murphy 
became a high school principal. (Halberstam, p. 71 9) Yet it is Nash 
who on the thirty-fifth anniversary of that event was the essence of 
the group when she stood up to the Mayor of Nashville and further it 
was Nash who summarized what those years had been about for the 
group. At the anniversary "she had spoken not so much for herself 
on that day when she confronted Ben West, she said, but for all of her 
colleagues in the Movement, and perhaps even more, for all of those 
black people who had gone before and who had never been given a 
chance to speak or who had never been listened to." (Halberstam, p, 

Halberstam asked Diane Nash whether the times made people act 
in extraordinary ways or whether it was extraordinary people that 
made extraordinary times? Her answer was that extraordinary times 
make extraordinary people. They were just people who were in the 
right place at the right time. The children of Halberstam's book are 
ordinary people who have paid a high price for the freedom of a 
generation of black and white Americans. Halberstam's book gives me 
a chance to ponder my identity, my place in America, a chance to 

The Mind's Eye 59 

Frances Jones-Snttd 

reminisce about from whence I came. It gives me a chance to call 
myself a southerner, a Mississippian, an African-American, a woman 
who has benefited From their sacrifices to be free enough to claim any 
place I wish as home. The story of these people gives us all the chance 
to know that we can be extraordinary people if we make similar 
commitments in our own lives and dare to ask the question that 
Diane Nash posed: "What can I do?" 


Garrow, David J. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 
Southern Christian Leadership Conference, New York: William Morrow 

Relph, Edward. "Geographical Experiences and Being-in- the- world: 
The Phenomenological Origins of Geography," in David Seamon and 
Robert Mugerauer, eds. Dwelling, Places and Environment: Towards.a 
Phenomenology of Person and World. New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1985. 

Sobel, Mechal. The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in 
Eighteenth-Century Virginia, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Univer- 
sity Press, 1987. 

Weil, Simone, The Need for Roots, Boston; Beacon Press, 1955, p. 53 
quoted in John Eyies, Senses of Place. Cheshire, England: Silverbrook 
Press, 1985. 

Zinn, Howard. SNCC: The New Abolitionists. Boston: Beacon Press 

60 The Mind's Eye 


History and Identity — A Creative Union?: 
Lessons from Israelis and Palestinians 

Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Palestinian National Conscious- 
ness by Rashid Khalidi. Columbia University Press, 1997 

Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National 
Tradition by Yael Zerubavel. University of Chicago Press, 1995 


^Despite what appears to be an increase in the global dash of 
cultures, a ray of hope can be gleaned from recent studies analyzing 
the emergence of national cultures and nationalist identities. The ray 
stems from the fact that the authors are themselves members of 
cultures that have been engaging in such conflict and yet demonstrate 
a willingness to examine their own nations or national claims as 
products and processes of "imagined communities." As such, they 
eschew any claims to an ardent nationalism because they recognize 
such claims would contradict their own endeavors. These elforls 
involve uncovering their own national memories as historically 
contingent inventions, riddled with inconsistencies, and continually 

The two works I have in mind are Yael Zerubavel's Recovered Roots: 
Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition and Rashid 
Khatidi's Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Palestinian National 
Consciousness. 1 have selected these works to commemorate Israel's 
recent fiftieth anniversary. Whereas this anniversary may have 
signaled, for some, a cause for celebration and triumph, and for 
others an occasion for mourning, I emphasize commemoration as an 
opportunity to reassess the past in order to forge an opening for new 
beginnings. History need not mean destiny if we can strip it of 

The Mind's Eye 61 

Sumi Colligan 

essentialized 1 qualities that have been imputed to it. While for some 
the demise of master narratives may suggest a loss of control, instabil- 
ity, and an undermining of self-assuredness, I see in it an opportunity 
to escape the rigidity and fixity of bounded views that have contrib- 
uted to current impasses in the global political arena. 

Yael Zerubavel, the first author mentioned above, is an Israeli with 
a background in folklore who teaches modern Hebrew literature at 
the University of Pennsylvania. She first became interested in explor- 
ing the socio -historical roots of her own national culture when she 
came to the United States and discovered that it was difficult for her 
to participate in American Jewish ritual practices because they 
differed significantly from practices with which she was raised and 
had assumed to be pan of a timeless and uniform Jewish tradition. 
She felt further compelled to examine the assumptions and impulses 
that contributed to the making of this tradition when she was assist- 
ing her daughter with a school project on family history only to 
discover that a family memoir of her great-grandfather began with his 
immigration to Palestine and made no mention of his Eastern Euro- 
pean origin. 

Rashid Khalidi, the second author, is a Palestinian who is a scion 
of several East Jerusalem notable families, teaches Middle Eastern 
history at the University of Chicago, and has been an adviser to 
several post-Oslo Palestinian delegations in their negotiations over 
peace accords with Israel. Khalidi states that, for his own part, his 
research in Lebanon on decisions made by the PLO during the 1982 
War and his first-hand experience with helping to delineate the 
contours of an emergent national formation, caused him to come 
face-to-face with an ever changing conceptualization that the Pales- 
tinians held of themselves as a people. 

To some extent, the goals of the works are quite distinct. While 
Zembaval is trying to deconstruct Israeli secular culture by demon- 
strating how collective memory selectively refashions past events in 
order to conform to contemporary agendas, Khalidi is attempting to 
offer support for the existence of the Palestinian people as a refuta- 
tion of Golda Meir's 1969 statement that, "There was no such thing as 
Palestinians . . . They did not exist" (quoted in Khalidi, 147). His 
thesis reveals that while nation and state are often thought of as a 
single entity (as in nation-state), national consciousness can develop 
in the absence of statehood. Since statehood has been achieved in one 
instance and has yet to come to full fruition in the other, the 
counterposing perspectives of these two authors are not particularly 
surprising. Rescuing "repressed history" has different implications for 
those who speak louder from the privileged position of the victors or 
with the muted voices of the losers. 

62 The Mind's Eye 

Sumi Colligan 

In her beginning chapters, Zerubavel writes about the temporal 
and spatial structure of Zionist thought as one that collapses Antiquity 
with Modern National Revival and erases or silences 2000 years of 
Exile to create a sense of continuity between the past and the present, 
thereby essenlializing the bond between the Jewish people and land, 
language, and sovereignty (a strategy that was especially pronounced 
during the prestate period and early years of statehood). For example, 
she explores in depth how the siege at Masada and the Bar-Kokhba 
revolt, both instances in which Jews attempted to fend off the en- 
croaching Romans, are used to argue for and illustrate a timeless 
seam with the contemporary fsraeli nation and military. In so doing, 
she notes that the denial of Exile helped contribute to the misconcep- 
tion or propaganda that Palestine was uninhabited by Palestinians 
since denying Exile also meant lack of recognition that this Biblical 
land had a subsequent history and occupants following Antiquity. 
Additionally, such denial devalued or dismissed any common threads 
with Jewish Diaspora experiences or cultures since Jewish immigrants 
were encouraged to consider themselves "reborn." 

Khalidi, on the other hand, attempts to show that even prior to 
the arrival of Zionists at the turn of the century, there was an aware- 
ness among the inhabitants of Palestine concerning the sacredness of 
Jerusalem as a Muslim site and a regional identity crystallized by the 
memory of the Crusades— a memory in contemporary times that has 
been conflated with European and Zionist incursions into the area, 
particularly following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Nonethe- 
less, he is not attempting to offer evidence of a primordial and 
totalizing Palestinian identity, but rather to portray the interweaving 
of cultural continuities and overlapping identities as well as points of 
disjunclure and fragmentation. Moreover, these disjunetures and 
fragments are not attributed solely to silences and divisions imposed 
by external domination, but also to internal cleavages. For example, 
he acknowledges that land was sold to Zionist settlers by absentee 
Palestinian landlords (although substantial amounts were also sold by 
outsiders); that Palestinian peasant revolts in the earlier part of the 
century were indicative of an awareness among peasants that, their 
interests confficted with those ot Jewish settlers and those of Arab 
merchants from Damascus, Jaffa, Haifa, and Beirut who were pur- 
chasing large tracts of previously common land used for agriculture 
and grazing; and that members of the Arab League in Haifa told 
Palestinians to flee in the wake of the 1948 War (as did many Israeli 

Nonetheless, he does hope to challenge those who would 
delegifimize Palestinian claims to sovereignty by pointing to periods 
when Palestinian identity was not outwardly in evidence (for ex- 

The Mind's Eye 63 

Sumi Colhgan 

ample, in the decade and a half following the 1948 War) or by 
dismissing Palestinian national consciousness as unauthentic simply 
because it emerged largely in response to Zionism. Indeed, he 
counters such accusations by postulating (as have others) that iden- 
tity is, at least in part, relational and "can be fully understood only in 
the context of a sequence of other histories, a sequence of other 
narratives" {9). Thus the weakening or enfeeblement of identity may 
simply signal a period of taking stock and of watchfulness and/or a 
momentary need to focus exclusively on the demands of external 
contingencies and to seek a "time out" in order to regroup. 

Zerubavel, in discussing the making of Israeli national culture, also 
highlights its oppositional character. If Jews in Exile were 
overdetermined by external conditions and forces, acted upon, 
rendered passive, martyred, and scapegoaied by virtue of their 
placement in restricted occupations, then the "new Hebrew" would 
be strong, heroic, a pioneer in the wilderness clearing the land for 
planting, would control his own destiny, and be willing to defend his 
people against all odds (1 use the term "he" here because these images 
are rooted in a masculinist construction). The construction of these 
oppositional, images contributes to underscoring instances of resis- 
tance in Antiquity while playing down the outcomes (in the case of 
Masada, collective suicide, and in the case of the Bar-Kokhba revolt, 
massive defeat), It also minimizes attention to the Holocaust (while at 
the same time organizing rescue missions and extending safe haven 
to its refugees) whose victims were cast only as "victims" and nol also 
as courageous survivors. 

Thus, despite the contradictory aims of "constructing" or 
"deconstructing," both authors are in remarkable agreement concern- 
ing the dynamics involved in constituting identity and the importance 
that giving shape to one's own historical narrative plays in giving 
direction to one's own future. In substantiating their arguments, both 
emphasize methods by which a sense of "horizontal comradeship" (to 
use Benedict Anderson's term, 7) has been promoted and instilled 
(through, e.g., literary writing, newspapers, and schools) among 
Israelis and Palestinians. But, of equal significance, they stress that 
memory and agency are not the singular domain of political and 
literary elites. In so doing, it is possible to discern how ideological 
inconsistencies in nationalist hegemonies give way to alternative 
hegemonies or popular undercurrents. For example, Zerubavel notes 
that the secular national myth of Masada was at once weakened by 
the integration of the Holocaust into national memory following the 
Eichmann triaP as well as by Masada 's commercialization and in- 
creased accessibility; and strengthened by the discovery of a syna- 
gogue on the premises and by the political manipulation of national 

64 The Mind's Eye 

Sumi CoHigan 

insecurities in the aftermaths, variously, of the 1973 War, the War in 
Lebanon, and the growing tensions in the Occupied Territories. These 
anxieties have contributed to a nascent (or no longer so nascent) 
"traditionalism" couched in nationalist-religious terms (Exile is back, 
but not in a guise that it would itself recognize). The slippcriness ol 
hegemony that allows it both to disappear and reappear is best, 
captured by the Israeli writer A.B. Yehoshua in observing, "Masada is 
no longer the historic mountain near the Dead Sea but a mobile 
mountain that we carry on our back anywhere we go" (quoted in 
Zerubavel, 194). 

Finally, 1 would like to return to the issue of undercurrents. 
Postcolonia] theorists have commented that in many postcolonial 
states, nationalist fervor and anticipation have given way to cynicism 
and disillusionment. While neither Israel (because it combines 
elements of postcoloniality such as freedom from the British and 
escape from European genocide and oppression with elements of a 
settler culture) nor Palestine (because it has not yet entered a stage of 
postcoloniality) fully conforms to postcolonial criteria, it is still 
instructive to consider current trends in both societies in light of a 
postcolonial moral crisis. For instance, Zerubavel investigates the roie 
of humor as a form of social protest. She explains how the siege of 
Tel Hai in 1920, an event celebrated by Israeli nationalists as a display 
of great heroism because the commander Trumpeldor defended this 
sparsely populated northern Jewish settlement singlehandedly (quite 
literally, since Trumpledor had lost one of his arms while serving in 
the Czarist army) against Arabs who were searching for French 
sympathizers, has recently been turned on its head. Stories abound 
that Trumpledor's dying words were not, "It is good to die for your 
country," but rather a juicy Russian curse, and that the statue of 
Trumpledor with a Hon (the first statue erected to mark Israeli 
sovereignty) was not a symbol of national strength, not an indigenous 
wild animal that was tamed, but a domesticated one located in a 
nearby Egyptian zoo. Such humor clearly calls nationalist bravado 
into question. Likewise, Khalidi emphasizes that the intifada, the 
Palestinian uprising of 1987-1992, was as much a grassroots protest 
against the PLO leadership as it was against the Israeli Occupation 
itself. PalesLinian civil disobedience in the West Bank and Gaza alerted 
leaders in exile that they could no longer define the discourse or set 
the strategies for Palestinian liberation because they were ineffectual 
and not grounded in the lived experience of the Occupation. Thus 
moral crisis need not be destructive and may budge people to be more 
receptive to novel solutions. 

In short, I find a review of these works most valuable because they 
prove that national self-scrutiny does not necessarily lead to amiihila- 

Thc Mind's Eye 65 

Sumi Colligan 

tion. If identity is indeed processual rather than given, then identity 
politics should focus on dialogue, transaction, and exchange, not 
identity as a zero sum game. While essentialzed "ties that bind" may 
cement solidarity, mobilize activism, and ward off challenges from the 
outside world, those very same ties may become constraints, even 
strangleholds. Whereas both Israelis and Palestinians have promul- 
gated positions that rest upon a mutual denial of the other, there are 
nonetheless increasing indications of a growing recognition that the 
successful survival of each may require a degree of mutual 
acknowledgement. Some of my critics might argue that this scrutiny 
is simply the indulgence of isolated academics or point to the consid- 
erable influence of nationalist-religious movements on both sides of 
the divide that has served to undermine recent peace initiatives, I 
would counter that although such movements need to be taken 
seriously and monitored closely, it is equally important to pay atten- 
tion to the formal and informal mechanisms through which individu- 
als and groups situated at various strata of each society contest the 
validity and rigidity of exclusivist and exclusionary nationalisms and 
express a willingness to embrace a more uncertain (but perhaps more 
secure) future. 


Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and 
Spread of Nationalism. London and New York: Verso, 1 99 1 . 


1 To "essentialize" means to impute intrinsic and uniform qualities, a 
natural essence, or primordial, timeless roots to social categories and 
processes. It suggests that such categories and processes are impervi- 
ous to the influences of changing sociocuhural, economic, and 
political factors. Poststructural theorists have been instrumental in 
challenging this notion, pointing to the humanly constructed facets of 
these same categories and processes as well as the manner in which 
their emergence and reformulation are contingent on external 
interests, forces, and agents. 

2 The extensive media coverage of the Eichmann trial in Israel edu- 
cated the Israeli public to the struggles and tribulations of those who 
were caught in the deadly whirlwind of the Holocaust. Thus the 
demarcation between Masada heros and Holocaust victims came to be 
viewed as less significant. 

66 The Mind's Eye 


Sumi Colligan has taught anthropology at the Massachusetts College of Lib- 
eral Arts since 1984. Her research interests include resistance and the politics 
oi culture. She conducted her doctoral work in Israel on the Karaites, a Jew- 
ish sect originating in Egypt. Her articles have appeared in The Anthropology of 
Work Review, The Encyclopedia of World Cultures, and elsewhere. She recently 
participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities summer seminar 
entitled. "National Identity in China: The New Politics of Culture." Professor 
Colligan currently teaches an honors course examining nationalism from a 
cross-cultural perspective. 

Abbot Cutler teaches creative writing and literature at Massachusetts Col- 
lege of Liberal Arts. He is the author of 1843 Rebecca 1847, a book of narrative 
poetry, and his poems have appeared in several publications, including 
Ploughshares, PotlatcXh, Blue Sofa Review, and the anthology. Under One Roof. 
Professor Cutler is the advisor for the annual publication of student writing. 
Kaleidoscope. He will return in the fall from a sabbatical leave devoted to writ- 

Thomas Weston Fels is an independent curator and writer specializing in 
photography and cultural history. Among the more than 20 exhibitions he 
has organized, his Carelton Watkins: Western Landscape and the Classical Vision 
was presented at the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1990. His forthcoming book on 
collecting photography, Sotheby 's Guide to Photographs, is scheduled for publica- 
tion by Henry Holt & Co. in May. He lives in North Bennington, Vermont. 

Tony Gengarelly teaches art history and museum studies in the Fine and 
Performing Arts Department at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He has 
organized and presented exhibitions at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art 
Institute and Williams College Museum of Art, most recently an exhibition of 
paintings, prints and photographs called The Wilderness Cult: Americans and the 
Land, 1850-1925. Professor Gengarelly has authored several articles and books, 
including Distinguished Dissenters and Opposition to the 1919-1920 Red Scare. He 
recently received awards from both Williams College and Massachusetts Col- 
lege of Liberal Arts for the production of an interactive CD-ROM on the social 
ramifications of 19th-century American landscape painting. 

Mary Kennan Herbert teaches writing at the Borough of Manhattan Com- 
munity College and at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University, fol- 
lowing a career in book publishing. Her poems have appeared in numerous 
publications, including College English, The Chattahoochee Review, The Dominion 
Review, and Hiram Poetry Review. A first collection of poems was published last 
year by Ginninderra Press in Australia, which will publish a second book this 

The Mind's Bye 67 

Frances Jones-Sneed teaches history at Massachusetts College of Liberal 
Arts. In 1996 she participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities 
summer seminar on African American culture at the University of Kansas. 
Her research interest is in African American women in the American West. Of 
numerous papers presented on this topic, her .most recent article, "A Search 
for Place: William McNorton and his Garden of the Lord," appears in Grey 
Gundaker's Keep Your Head to the Sky: Interpreting African American Home Ground. 
published by the University of Virginia Press. 

Richard Markham has taught interdisciplinary studies and education at 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts since 1971 . He has conducted extensive 
study of the philosophy and writings of John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Paul Tiilich, 
and Nicholai Berdyaev. Papers presented include: "What Does It Mean to Syn- 
thesize?", "The Cosmological Matrix of Dewey's Theory of Inquiry," and "Ex- 
ploring Ways of Knowing." Professor Markham is currently faculty coordina- 
tor of the First Year Seminar. 

David Raffeld is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently Into 
the World of Men, published in 1997 by Adastra, and a verse play, The Isaac 
Oratorio. His poems have appeared in Poetry East, The Christian Science Monitor, 
Fhoebe, Contempora. and other publications. His work has also appeared in sev- 
eral anthologies, among them: Under One Roof and most recently Jamaica 
Kincaid's My Favorite Plant. He is the editor and publisher of PotlatcXh, an an- 
thology of poetry, prose and art. He is a frequent adjunct in the departments 
of religion and philosophy at Williams College. He lives in Williamstown. 

Meera Tamaya recently presented her paper, "Dangerous Beauty: Church 
vs. State," at the Popular Culture Association in San Diego. She is the author 
of the book. Colonial Detection: H.R.F. Keating, as well as articles on John 
Sherwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Pym and Shakespeare. 
Her article, "[Re]cogni/tng Hamlet," in the fall 1997 issue of The Mind's Eye led 
to a publishing contract fur a book on this subject. Professor of English at 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, she teaches courses on Shakespeare 
and other authors. 

68 The Mind's Eye 

Mind's Eye 

Writer's Guidelines 

While emphasizing articles of scholarly merit, The Mind's Eye focuses on a general 
communication of ideas of interest to a liberal arts college. We welcome expository 
essays as well as fiction, poetry and art from faculty and guest contributors, We 
publish twice a year. The deadline for the Fall issue is July 15. Deadline for the 
Spring issue is January 1 5. 

Submissions should adhere to these guidelines: 

1 . Submit unpublished manuscripts both on paper and on disk, using either PC or 
MAC platform word processing programs. Manuscripts should be typed double 
spaced. Your name, address, phone number and e-mail address, if available, should 
be listed on the cover sheet; your name should appear at the top of each page. 

2. We will consider simultaneous submissions under the provision thai the authot 
notify us of this, and contact us immediately if the material is accepted elsewhere. 

3. If you wish your manuscript, and disk returned, please enclose a return-self- 
addressed envelope. If it is to be mailed off campus, attach sufficient postage. 
While we make every attempt to safeguard your manuscript and disk, we can not 
be held responsible for their loss. 

4. Use MLA or A PA style, with in-text references, as appropriate to the content and 
disciplinary approach of your article (See MLA or APA stylebooks for guidelines). 

5. While we will consider articles of unspecified length, preference is given to 
articles under 20 pages. 

6. We reserve the right to edit for clatity and accuracy. 

7. We will consider one-color art work (photographs, line drawings, woodcuts, 

8. Payment will be made in contributor's copies. 

Submit your manuscript to: 

The Mind's Eye 
Tony Gengarelly, Managing Editor 
Campus Box 9132 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 
37 s church Street 
North Adams, MA 01247 
For queries: